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Multiple health concerns surface as winter, vitamin D deficiences arrive
Date:11/23/2009

infections. Experts believe advances in the use of cathelicidin may form the basis for new therapies.

Once believed to be related primarily to bone health and rickets a disease caused by chronic deficiency of vitamin D it's now understood that optimal levels of this nutrient influence much more than that.

"Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is a world-wide, public health problem in both developed and developing nations," the new report concluded. "Nearly one billion people world-wide are deficient."

Vitamin D can be obtained from the diet, often through supplemented foods such as milk, but those sources are rarely adequate, experts say. Most people get the bulk of this fat-soluble vitamin from the UV-B radiation in sun exposure, which naturally causes the skin to produce it. However, people with dark skin, infants and almost anyone living north of about 40 degrees latitude which is a huge portion of the U.S. population and most of Europe are often deficient after months of inadequate winter sunshine.

Among the values and observations about vitamin D that are outlined in the new report:

  • Low levels of circulating vitamin D are associated with increased risk and mortality from cancer.

  • Vitamin D plays an important role in activating the immune system, fostering the "innate" immune response and controlling over-reaction of adaptive immunity, and as such may help control autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Cathelicidin can profoundly boost the innate immune system, and could form the basis for new therapies to combat pathogenic infections.

  • The regulation of cathelicidin by vitamin D, a unique biological pathway for the function of vitamin D that could help explain its multiple roles in proper immune function, is so important that it's only known to exist in two groups of animals - humans and non-human primates - and has
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Contact: Adrian Gombart
adrian.gombart@oregonstate.edu
541-737-8018
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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