The Ongoing Saga of Vitamin D: Unveiling Its Crucial Role in Health
The global scenario is witnessing a surge in vitamin D deficiency, which is indirectly impacting various diseases and deteriorating overall health. Why is this societal phenomenon emerging despite the well-established importance of vitamin D? Let's delve deeper into this issue.
Rickets, a disease characterized by bone deformities, was first described by Soranus of Ephesus in recorded human history. It found its way into various historical texts, including Confucius' writings, but gained substantial attention during the industrial revolution. However, the revelation of vitamin D in 1924 and its link to rickets, as published in the journal Science, propelled research into the actions and efficacy of vitamin D.
The Golden Era
Interest in and research on vitamin D reached a point where numerous products containing vitamin D flooded the market. For instance, in 1936, Schlitz beer from North Carolina advertised itself as "the beer with Sunshine Vitamin - D," promoting the joy of beer consumption coupled with vitamin D intake. In the 1930s, Europe and the UK actively promoted milk fortified with Vitamin D2, distributing related materials to citizens. This marked the zenith of vitamin D's popularity, evident not only in beer and milk but also in soft drinks, hotdog condiments, soap, and shaving cream, among others.
The Turning Point
However, the 1950s witnessed a pivotal moment in vitamin D research. Concerns arose about potential adverse effects, including heart-related issues and mental impairment, associated with consuming products heavily fortified with vitamin D. To address these concerns, experiments on laboratory rats conducted by the Royal College of Physicians revealed similar effects in their offspring. Consequently, the Royal College of Physicians urged the government to regulate products with excessive vitamin D, leading to the initiation of regulations on vitamin D additives in food. This regulatory trend continues in many countries worldwide, including recent relaxations in India, Finland, and Sweden regarding vitamin D-fortified milk.
! Intriguingly, there are reports suggesting a higher prevalence of vitamin D hypersensitivity-related genetic disorders, known as Williams syndrome, in the UK cause elfin facies, supravalvular aortic stenosis, mild mental retardation, and hypersensitivity, which is more vulnerable to the hyperprocalcemia caused by abundance in vitamin D.
The Recent Resurgence
In recent years, interest in vitamin D has resurged, particularly concerning its potential relevance to COVID-19. Several studies have explored the correlation between low serum vitamin D levels and an increased risk of COVID-19 incidence and severity. Supplementation of vitamin D was found to reduce ICU admission rates and mortality in severe COVID-19 cases. These findings hint at possible mechanisms, such as the role of vitamin D in modulating immune responses and cytokine storms, ultimately affecting survival.
Modern Disease Associations
Moreover, emerging research is gradually uncovering associations between vitamin D and contemporary diseases. While not conclusively proven, low vitamin D levels may exacerbate conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders. Similarly, various types of cancer patients tend to exhibit lower vitamin D levels. In adolescents during growth stages, vitamin D can impact the development of a healthy skeletal system.
In light of these findings, vitamin D's importance, once discovered, has undergone a rollercoaster ride of research and reevaluation. To ensure proper vitamin D levels, individuals must accurately assess their deficiency through consultation with healthcare professionals. By supplementing vitamin D or adopting alternative approaches, one can take charge of their own health.
Gregory, L. (2018, September 28). Beer history in North Carolina Newspapers. DigitalNC. https://www.digitalnc.org/blog/beer-history-in-north-carolina-newspapers/
Holick MF. The One-Hundred-Year Anniversary of the Discovery of the Sunshine Vitamin D3: Historical, Personal Experience and Evidence-Based Perspectives. Nutrients. 2023; 15(3):593. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15030593
Jones G. 100 YEARS OF VITAMIN D: Historical aspects of vitamin D. Endocr Connect. 2022 Apr 22;11(4):e210594. doi: 10.1530/EC-21-0594. PMID: 35245207; PMCID: PMC9066576.
Shah K, Varna VP, Sharma U, Mavalankar D. Does vitamin D supplementation reduce COVID-19 severity?: a systematic review. QJM. 2022 Oct 25;115(10):665-672. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcac040. PMID: 35166850; PMCID: PMC9383458.
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