Recent studies suggest the importance of Vitamin D3 in immunity, and indeed, vitamin D3 deficiency has been linked to multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, depression, diabetes, chronic pain, osteoporosis and many other illnesses:
Vitamin D3 has also been shown to play an important role in host defense against pathogens by promoting the production of the human antimicrobial peptides, cathelicidins (LL-37). These cathelicidins have been found to have broad spectrum antimicrobial activity, showing activity against the following microbes, among others:
- C. albicans
- C. trachomatis
- Bacillus species (Several members)
- B. burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
- E. coli
- H. pylori
- M. tuberculosis
- M. furfur & Dermatophyes (Seborrheic dermatitis and tinea infections)
- P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, S. epidermidis, Herpes simplex virus type 1, and Adenovirus
- Streptococcus species (Group A)
While cathelicidins (LL-37) have been shown to have little or no direct effect against C. pnuemoniae, Vitamin D3 has been shown to disrupt the mechanism that the intracellular forms of C. pneumoniae use to prevent normal celluar apoptosis, and it is believed that Vitamin D3 is active against the intracellular forms of C. pneumoniae through this mechanism. The resulting die-off effects from Vitamin D3 can be quite large, and symptoms of secondary pophryia can also be dramatically increased. Vitamin D3 levels should therefore be increased very slowly when treating a C. pneumoniae infection!
There is much controversy surrounding the optimum levels of Vitamin D3 supplementation, and while the currently established safe upper limit for Vitamin D3 is listed as 2000 IU per day for adults and children over the age of 12 months, many experts are now questioning this level and calling for the upper limit to be increased to levels as high as 10,000 IU:
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D
Another method to obtain adequate levels of Vitamin D3 is through approximately 15-20 minutes of near full body exposure to the sun at peak sun times during the summer. In this amount of time at peak sun during peak sun months, our skin produces between 10,000 and 20,000 IU of Vitamin D3. No additional Vitamin D3 is produced in longer exposure, and peak levels are produced prior to any sunburn pinkness.
However, the time of the day, the season of the year, and the latitude you live in alter the the amount of UVB rays (the Vitamin D3 producing rays) you are exposed to as the following study from India points out:
Even at high noon, UVB exposure varies so much by season, that you may have trouble getting enough Vitamin D3 in the near winter and winter months depending on your latitude as the diagrams of UVB exposure in various US cities by month in the following article show:
Vitamin D3 supplementation may be contraindicated in certain diseases including sarcoidosis, so please talk to your doctor before taking high level supplements of Vitamin D3.