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Vitamin D May Reduce Disease Risk by Influencing Genes

The health benefits of vitamin D have been observed in a large number of clinical trials. Now a recent study shows a link between vitamin D and genes.

The study, which looked into the specific genes that are affected by vitamin D, was published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Genome Research.

For the study, researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford conducted tests which found 2,776 “binding sites” which are places where vitamin D attached to the genome.

Many of these bonds were concentrated around genes that have been associated with autoimmune diseases such as colorectal cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. A concentration of these bonds was also found in genes linked to diabetes and Crohn’s disease.

The researchers say this shows that vitamin D plays a very important role in gene expression and susceptibility to a host of diseases.

Around 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient and these findings further back the necessity of increasing vitamin D intakes. Recently, experts have been encouraging an increase in the daily recommended intake of vitamin D and this study provides more hard evidence to back that initiative.

One way to increase vitamin D levels is by gaining more sun exposure, however, that can lead to an increased risk of cancer. As we age our skin also becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin.

For this reason, taking a supplement or eating more foods fortified with the vitamin is often times a more reliant and safer option. Some foods that are often fortified with vitamin D are yogurt, milk, orange juice, cereals and margarine.

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