Greater gut diversity is being shown to play a major role in our overall health. Specific studies, like how your gut microbiome may play a part in metabolizing Vitamin D to better your health, are just some of the current studies being done with hopes to discover even more information on how important our gut health is to our overall health.
Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin because of its ability to be produced in our bodies in response to sunlight, can play an active role in calcium absorption, the immune system, and protecting your bones, muscle, and heart. This vitamin naturally occurs in some fatty fish, egg yolks, liver, and red meat as well as when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds which include vitamins D1, D2, and D3.
By ensuring that we are getting enough vitamin D in our systems we are helping our bodies to combat disease, depression, unhealthy weight gain, and bone abnormalities in addition to supporting our immune systems. Since vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, our bones and teeth are at less risk for diseases like osteomalacia or osteoporosis when our vitamin D levels are healthy. Traditional Medicine typically lists a healthy range of vitamin D between 32-100, but studies actually show great benefits in having a vitamin D level between 70-100, so this is what I work toward for patients. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, vitamin D reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, and it reduces the likelihood of developing the flu according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Trusted Source. More research is showing how vitamin D contributes to regulating moods and warding off depression as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and helping manage weight.
How Your Gut Microbiome May Play a Part in Metabolizing Vitamin D
Recent research is showing how the makeup of an individual’s gut health is linked to active vitamin D levels. Through this study of older men, it was discovered that the diversity of the gut microbiome, which is already associated with overall health, was closely associated with active vitamin D levels. Keep in mind that there is a difference between the precursor form of vitamin D and the active hormone. Current research suggests that results can vary greatly depending on which type of vitamin D is being studied.
Through analyzing blood and stool samples of 567 participants, this recent study revealed that 12 types of bacteria that are known to produce butyrate were more prevalent in patients with active vitamin D levels. Butyrate is an essential microbial metabolite with the vital role of modulating proper immune function. It protects the integrity of the intestinal epithelial barrier. On the flipside, low levels of butyrate can lead to damage or dysfunction. Since microbiomes are so complex and vary from person to person, seeing this clear association within the participants is significant.
It was also worthy of noting that the team found no correlations between where men in this study lived and their levels of active vitamin D. What seemed to matter most for men is how they metabolize the precursor form into active vitamin D. This suggests that instead of getting lots of sun or taking large amounts of a vitamin D supplement, your body may need support to use the vitamin D ingested in a way that allows you to gain the greatest benefits. With vitamin D playing such a big role in our health, this information can be very useful. However, more studies will be needed to have a more accurate picture and understanding of the role gut health plays in vitamin D metabolism.
There is More to Learn
Vitamin D is commonly known as an essential vitamin needed for your overall health. Without it, bones cannot develop properly or can weaken over time. Having a deficiency of vitamin D has even been linked to certain types of cancers, heart disease, depression, and weight gain with studies continuing to show that those with higher levels of vitamin D are at lower risk of these ailments. The Vitamin D Council has suggested that treatment using vitamin D may prevent autism, autoimmune disease, chronic pain issues, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, the common flu, depression, and neuromuscular diseases. There have not been any definitive clinical trials but more and more research supports these ideas. What is known, however, is how vitamin D plays a role in regulating the immune and neuromuscular system as well as working with calcium to build strong bones. It also plays a major role in the life cycle of human cells. The fact that human body produces vitamin D on its own with exposure to sunlight is a good indicator of the vital role of this vitamin in our overall health.
The microbiome diversity within the gut is proving to play a huge role in an individual’s health. The specific function of vitamin D in this process is still not fully understood, but research will continue to be pursued because the results are revealing some fascinating insights.