Approximately 50% of U.S. citizens are Vitamin D deficient. The numbers are higher among hispanic and black populations. The melanin in darker-skinned people interferes with the synthesis of the vitamin D that starts at the level of the skin when the sun comes into contact with it. Therefore, darker-skinned people tend to be more deficient. Vitamin D is crucial for good health, and may be one of the simplest solutions to a wide range of health problems, from diseases of the eyes to the bowels, and conditions rooted in chronic inflammation and immune dysfunction in particular. It is a common deficiency worldwide, even in sundrenched areas, yet many people, including physicians, are unaware they may be lacking this important nutrient.
Despite its name, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone, which you get primarily from either sun exposure or supplementation, along with some foods. Many of its health benefits are due to its ability to influence genetic expression. Unfortunately a large percentage of people have a genetic SNP in their vitamin D receptor. (I found science showing 59% in the Indian population alone.)
What is a Genetic Polymorphism or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism)?
All of us have small differences in the information that our DNA contains, and it’s these differences that make each of us unique. Gene polymorphisms are slight changes in the genetic code that are present in at least one percent of the population or as much as 50% or more.
For example – one genetic “letter” (A, T, C, or G) may be replaced by another. These polymorphisms can lead to different processes in the body, just as altering one letter in a word can completely change its meaning, like MAP or MOP. Those are very different meanings. When the change affects only one genetic letter, it is called a “single nucleotide polymorphism” (or SNP, pronounced “snip”).
Vitamin D regulates 900 different genes, including methylation. Important genes in the vitamin D signaling system, such as those coding for your receptors (termed VDR for vitamin D receptor) and your enzymes 25-hydroxylase (CYP2R1), 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), and 24-hydroxylase (CYP24A1) can be silenced by DNA methylation. (MTHFR) The point is D is important for methylation as well as supporting health, and auto-immune reactions.
The metabolic pathway leading to the synthesis of active vitamin D involves three reactions that occur in different tissues. The pathway is initiated in the skin with the UV light-mediated cleavage of 5,7,-cholestadien-3β-ol to produce the secosteroid (3β,5Z,7E)-9,10-secocholesta-5,7,10(19)-trien-3-ol (vitamin D3). The second step occurs in the liver and is catalyzed by a cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme that hydroxylates carbon 25, producing the intermediate 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, which is the major circulatory form of the vitamin. The third and final step takes place in the kidney and involves 1α-hydroxylation by another CYP, producing 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. This product is a potent ligand of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and mediates most of the physiological actions of the vitamin.
In plain English your skin can initiate the production of Vitamin D but most of us bath before that process can complete. Then you might have a polymorphism in CYP2R1, the liver enzyme that is part of the Cytochrome P450 that may not be working efficiently and lastly you could have a polymorphism, VDR compromising some of the physiological actions of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a strong immune modulator, (think of it for autoimmune diseases or for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression). Combined with probiotics, it can also improve intestinal permeability which reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D can increase your Natural Killer cells as well as certain infection-fighting T cells. It’s a must, especially in cold winter climates although there is plenty of evidence indicating people everywhere are deficient.
Recent clinical studies show if pregnant mothers get adequate Vitamin D in their diets, the incidents of allergies and asthma in the child will be lower.
Common Gene Polymorphism Predisposes Many to Low Vitamin D Levels
It’s worth noting that a fairly significant portion of the population have a gene polymorphism called CYP2R1, a genetic aberration that prevents your liver from hydroxylating the vitamin D3 into 25-hydroxy vitamin D, which is the major circulating form of vitamin D in your body. In this case, the amount of vitamin D you’d need to take could be extraordinarily high.
“This polymorphism in the gene … [means] vitamin D3 is not getting converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D very well. As a consequence, people with this gene polymorphism, in some cases, have to take very high doses of vitamin D3 orally to achieve normal levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D — levels that people like you and I would never take, because it could induce some negative effects.
But you wouldn’t know that [you have this polymorphism] if you never got your vitamin D levels measured. I actually know some people in my close friend network that have this gene polymorphism, and they have to take very, very high levels of vitamin D … I don’t know what the incidence is … [but] in order for anything to be considered a gene polymorphism, it has to be over 1 percent of the population.”
The difference between a mutation and a gene polymorphism is that a mutation is thought to occur randomly. For whatever reason, your mitochondria metabolism isn’t working properly, and it’s dumping all sorts of toxic things that may possibly cause a mutation…
A gene polymorphism is thought to be because of a certain reason…It’s largely thought, at least in the scientific community, that gene polymorphisms occur based on nutrition [and] environment…
If, for example, we live in a part of the world where the selenium in the soil is very, very high, as a population, we could have gotten a gene polymorphism in the gene that lowers our selenium absorption, because we don’t need as much in one dose since we are continually getting it.”
There are 30,000 genes in the human body and vitamin D impacts 3,000 of them.
Moreover, researchers have discovered that vitamin D is involved in the biochemical cellular machinery of ALL cells and tissues in your body. Hence, when you don’t have enough, your entire body struggles to function optimally.
Here is a list of just a few of the conditions science has identified an involvement of vitamin D deficiency.
|Dry Eye||Macular Degeneration||MS||Bowel Disease||RA|
If you are taking prescription drugs like statins then cholesterol being a precursor to Vitamin D production, you are likely to be vitamin D deficient if your cholesterol is lowered.
So now we established how important it is, how do we get it efficiently? I like to quote Dr. Mark Hyman here because people still think they can get everything from food and sunshine. “Maybe if we eat only wild, fresh, organic, local, non-genetically modified food grown in virgin mineral and nutrient-rich soils that haven’t been transported across vast distances and stored for months before being eaten….and work and live outside, breathe only fresh polluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours per night, move their bodies every day and are free from chronic stressors and exposure to environmental toxins, then perhaps they might not need supplements…..”
Here is a scientific study showing supplementation vs skin exposure.
Getting Nutrition In to Your Cells
The study below shows a nutrient in two different forms. The maroon color is the nutrient in an isotonic delivery (similar to an IV with the appropriate salts and sugars added to get the ingredients to the cells asap).
The orange color is the exact same nutrient powder crushed into a tablet. I think the table speaks for itself.
The delivery system matters. It matters for bioavailability and it matters for speed. And if you have genetic snps related to your digestive tract it’s even more important.
Vitamin D3 is the best source of Vitamin D and it needs Co-Factors like K2.
Extracts from pomegranate, grape seed licorice, and quercetin may affect bone health in combination with Vitamin D by modulating gene expression relating to bone breakdown and formation.
A clinical study published in Phytomedicine indicates that extracts from pomegranate fruit and grape seed may work by downregulating gene expression, CTSG and TacR1 linked to reduced osteoclast activation. (osteoclasts are cells which break down bone, leading to resorption and weakening).
On the other hand, quercetin and licorice extracts may promote bone formation by upregulating gene expression, BMP-2 and COL1A1, linked to bone and collagen formation while down-regulating genes linked to osteoclastogenesis. (osteoblasts are cells which are responsible for bone formation.)
More on Vitamin D or Flu Shot?
30% Lower Risk of Cancer with 3 times the RDA of VitaminD3 – 4 year Clinical Study
Bone health nutraceuticals alter microarray mRNA gene expression: A randomized, parallel, open-label clinical study