Vitamin D is important in overall health, immunity and bones, it is also important to ensure that your muscles, brain heart and lungs work optimally.  In the same way as plants make their energy via photosynthesis, our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight in our skin.  This is how we evolved to obtain most of our vitamin D, although we do obtain some from some food products.

There are five types of vitamin D, but in humans the main ones are D2 and D3.  D2 can be found in green leafy vegetables and fungi when they are exposed to the sunlight, D3 is made by the skin in the presence of sunlight.

When UVB light hits the skin it converts cholesterol to pre-vitamin D.  It is picked up by the binding protein which is the main transport system for vitamin D in the body, and goes to the liver where it is converted to calcidiol and stored. It is then transported to the kidneys and converted to the final active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, for which almost every cell has a receptor for.  The vitamin D binding protein is made in the liver, so any ailment of either the liver or the kidneys can cause a disruption in the vitamin D synthesis.

 

Vitamin D deficiency is very widespread in the developed world, and it is generally recognised that most adults should consider supplements.   Factors that can affect the amount of vitamin D3 being generated by the body include being indoors, the darkness of your skin, coverage of skin with clothes or sunscreen, latitude, age, pregnancy or obesity.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with immune deficiency, rickets, bone disease, weakness, muscle pain, type 2 diabetes, cancers, autoimmune disease and heart disease.

Vitamin D is widely associated with the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.  This is essential for healthy teeth and bones and has been shown to have an effect on bone density and reduce the occurrence of fractures.  Vitamin D supports the immune system and promotes healing.

It may help with brain function since receptors for vitamin D exists in the brain and the active form of vitamin D, which contains the binding protein, stimulates the production of serotonin, a lack of which results in depression.  A study of 3369 European men aged 40-79 from 8 different cities showed low circulating levels of vitamin D is linked to poorer mental agility and memory, likely due to the protection of neurones and the generation of chemical signalling pathways (Lee, et al., 2009)

A study of nearly 60,000 people published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutruition showed that adequate circulation of vitamin D reduces the risk of all cause mortality by 29% (Grant, 2011).

Body fat accumulates as vitamin D levels fall.  The vitamin D binding protein is an actin scavenger, and an active immune system will clear out pathogens and toxins.  Where the body is unable to clear toxins, it can store this in the fatty layers, leading to lumpy fat deposits called cellulite.  Fat cells are more metabolically active in the presence of vitamin D.  A study of 650 teenagers showed those with the higher levels of vitamin D had the lowest levels of subcutaneous and visceral fat.

Vitamin D is required for healthy DNA replication and low levels increase the incidence in genetic mutations, which can lead to cancer.  Studies have shown that individuals with adequate levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing any cancer.

There is a very important and strong synergy between vitamins D and K, obtained from green leafy vegetables, so if supplementing look for D3 and K2 combinations.

So we come to the question of ‘What is the vitamin D binding Protein (VDBP)’?  It is a multi-functional plasma protein, made in the liver, with many important functions. The most well known one, and the reason for its name, is the transport of vitamin D metabolites .  Because VDBP is the primary transporter of vitamin D, it has a role in maintaining the total levels of vitamin D in the body and in regulating the amounts of free (unbound) vitamin D available for specific tissues and cell types to utilise.

Other functions of VDBP are to control bone development, binding of fatty acids, sequestration of actin and a range of less-defined roles in modulating immune and inflammatory responses.  The actin removal is considered to be a very important role for VDBP, actins being toxic  and released into the body following cell death.

Two amino acids on this protein chain have been shown to be very strongly associated with the activation of macrophages.  In some publications, the vitamin D binding protein is shown to respond to enzymes released by inflammation and this is often referred to as GcMAF, the macrophage activating protein.  Studies show that this isoform not only activates macrophages, it turns them off when no longer needed, so it is an immune system regulator.

Studies in laboratory cultures have shown that calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D when bound to a fatty acid and the binding protein, can significantly increase the number of dopamine neurons

Since Dr Bradstreet found that autistic children generally have a high level of nagalase, and looked at correcting this with gcmaf, the study of the treatment of autism with VDBP has continued with the GcMAF Research Initiative, who have published recently a reduction of the ATEC scores in 17 participants using low strength MAFActive 220 of 35% in just under 3 months.  This study initiative relies on voluntary input from parents using various forms of VDBP/GcMAF, and is an ongoing open ended study to gain information on and to assess VDBP therapy in any application where people are trying this.

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