A new study has found that autoimmune disorders may disappear with the daily intake of vitamin D and Omega-3 fish oil supplements. The study showed that when people above the age of 50 take 2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D over a period of five years, their chances of developing autoimmune diseases are reduced by 22%.
According to Dr. Karen Costenbader, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the division of Rheumatology, Inflammation and Immunity and the director of the lupus program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the rate of diagnosis for autoimmune diseases dropped by 39% when people take vitamin D for two years or more.
It should be noted that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that a daily dose of vitamin D for people aged 50-69 years is 600 IU and 800 IU for people aged 70 years and above. This signified that the daily dosage of 2,000 used in the research is actually 2-3 times above the dose recommended by the NIH. The study was published in the journal BMJ.
There are nearly 80 types of autoimmune disorders, but the most common are rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid diseases, psoriasis, and polymyalgia rheumatic among others. Just like cancer, autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s T-cells or defense system mistaken normal cells for invaders and then begins to destroy them, causing inflammation in the process.
If the body’s defenses attack normal cells in the lining of the joint, it causes rheumatoid arthritis, which leads to inflammation, swelling, and pain. In the case of psoriasis, scaly patches on the skin occur when inflammation is caused by the body’s immunity destroying skin cells. The same is true with diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
While vitamin D has been found to be helpful in the research, Costenbader warned people against rushing off to purchase the vitamin with an aim of preventing disorders. She said overdosing on vitamin D supplements is bad and could even affect the kidney and cause bone pain – especially when taken above the 600 IU by senior citizens.
The autoimmune expert said excessive intake of vitamin D supplements could be toxic since the body naturally produces the vitamin during exposure to sunlight. Moreover, cereals, milk, and other processed foods are often fortified with vitamin D, so it is not advisable for children or teenagers to consume vitamin D supplements since this could lead to a build-up level.
Costenbader said autoimmune disorders can occur to anyone at any stage in life, but they tend to be more common among older women above 55 years of age. She however noted that more studies are still needed to determine the benefits of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid or fish oil for the prevention of other major diseases.