Vitamin D3 and the gut as I blogged about previously effects our mental health as this is where, in the gut, we produce most of our serotonin. Without a healthy gut we usually produce less serotonin which means worsening mental health. To see this just look at the most widely prescribed class of antidepressant prescription medications. That being selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
SSRI’s work by raising serotonin brain levels. With the “opioid” crisis which really appears to be more of a mental health crisis a huge issue that is destroying so many lives. Though this crisis is made up of many components but certainly an easy first step would be assuring optimal blood levels of vitamin D3 to help the gut produces adequate serotonin. I am not saying that vitamin D3 alone would solve the problem, but this crisis alone has resulted in the first decrease in life expectancy in the US in decades.1
However, vitamin D3 also appears to directly affect the chromosomes as they divide. It does this by increasing the number of cell divisions that a cell can go through. When tissue is damaged it needs to ideally be replaced with cells not scare tissue. When cells are young, they divide to replace damaged tissue but as one theory holds after 50-70 cell divisions, they go into what is called senescence.
This process of limited cell division is called the Hayflick phenomenon and senescence is where cells continue to live but secrete scar tissue instead of dividing to create another cell when called on to repair tissue damage. In cell division the chromosomes of the cells divide, and the half is replicated to create a complete chromosome for each of the two new cells.
One end of the two halves of the chromosome is left longer than the other as the enzyme that replicates the other half of the chromosome to copy it must have something to grab ahold of. That part where the enzyme attaches isn’t copied so longer than the piece it creates. So, with out telomerase or similar enzyme to fill in the missing piece the longer end is cut off. Thus, with each replication the chromosome end becomes shorter and shorter.
This end is called the telomere and is important also because it holds the chromosomes together. Vitamin D3 helps to fill in the missing piece. This preserves the telomere length allowing more cell divisions. No, it doesn’t make the cell immortal, that is where it can divide forever like a cancer cell, but it does appear to slow the process down.
A recent study showed that those who lived longer wasn’t as dependent on genetics as we thought but more dependent on our environment, essentially what happened to them.2 The environment in how for instance we live and behave like the foods we eat, exercise, sleep and behaviors like cigarettes and alcohol for instance.
This environmental effect appears to be how vitamin D3 works in extending not only longer life but improving our quality with better health. I believe that low vitamin D3 levels are tied to hibernation and surviving the winter months. It does this at a cost as we trade off our health to survive a period when it is typically difficult to find food.
These low vitamin D3 periods were never meant to go on for decades like they do now. Thus, all the medical and public health advances are fighting against this prolonged winter syndrome we have put ourselves into. This has affected our longevity in so many ways thus imagine how much better and longer we could and would live with optimal blood levels of vitamin D3.
- Kochanek KD, Sherry L. Murphy SL, Xu, J, et al. (December 2017) Mortality in the United States, 2016. NCHS Data Brief. No. 293.
- Ruby JG, Wright KM, Rand KA, et al. (November 1, 2018) Estimates of the Heritability of Human Longevity Are Substantially Inflated due to Assortative Mating. GENETICS vol. 210 no. 3 1109-1124; https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.118.301613
*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!