Scientists have now mapped the exact points where Vitamin D interacts with more than 200 genes, unlocking more of the mechanism by which natural levels of ‘The Sunshine Vitamin' are related to overall health, according to a study published this week in the medical journal Genome Research.
"Scientists have mapped the points at which vitamin D interacts with our DNA - and identified over two hundred genes that it directly influences," medical news web site PhysOrg.com reported this week. "It is estimated that one billion people worldwide do not have sufficient vitamin D. This deficiency is thought to be largely due to insufficient exposure to the sun and in some cases to poor diet. As well as being a well-known risk factor for rickets, there is a growing body of evidence that vitamin D deficiency also increases an individual's susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia."
Thousands of studies now link higher vitamin D levels with lower rates of many forms of cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, flu and other auto-immune disorders. And while previous research has shown that most cells in the body have vitamin D receptors and that vitamin D plays a role in proper cell growth regulation, this study shows more of the mechanism: How vitamin D interacts with specific genes.
In contrast, there is no proven mechanism by which sunlight and melanoma are connected, merely theories that are confounded by the fact that melanoma is more common in those who receive less sunlight than in those who get regular UV exposure. Several dermatology leaders are starting to publicly promote this fact.
"Suntan is an evolutionary device: it protects against burning. The anti-solar brigade's claim that it indicates skin damage is a measure of their biological naivety," British dermatology professor Dr. Sam Shuster wrote this month in an essay in The London Daily Mail. "A suntan is just a sign of increased pigment - melanin - in the skin and is a natural biological response to the sun, not a sign of skin damage. So don't keep yourself and your children out of the sun; far better to develop a healthy tan without burning. Sunshine is the dynamo for vitamin D production. Without it your bones will crack, as those practicing sun avoidance have found."
The fact that melanoma is more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers is also widely forgotten in anti-sun campaigns that are almost always tied to manufacturers of chemical sunscreen products.
"That's a huge confounder that dermatology and chemical sunscreen manufacturers have conspicuously ignored," Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. "It's clear that evidence now strongly supports UV exposure as the only natural source of vitamin D capable of maintaining vitamin D levels high enough to achieve what these researchers are talking about."