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Chemicals lower levels of vitamin D in the body

Chemicals lower levels of vitamin D in the bodyAccording to a new study, hormone-disrupting substances like bisphenol-A and phthalates can lower levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream. During the winter period, it is a problem to get enough vitamin D to begin with, as the sun sits low in the sky and we only get a limited amount of the nutrient from our diet. The combination of too little vitamin D and hormone-disrupting substances is rather unfortunate because lack of vitamin D increases the risk of infections, winter depression, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Everybody is exposed to some degree of hormone-disrupting substances. According to the researcher behind a new study, Lauren Johns, PhD, from the University of Michigan, it may have wide implications if this exposure lowers levels of vitamin D. This nutrient is of great importance to our bones, immune system, cardiovascular system, and for the prevention of inflammation and cancer. The study, which is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is the first to show a link between hormone-disrupting substances and vitamin D levels in a large group of American adults.
Hormone-disrupting substances are chemicals that can damage your health through interfering with the body’s own hormones and its sensitive hormone balance. The scientific organization, The Society’s Scientific Statement on EDCs, analyzed 1,300 studies that showed how hormone-disrupting chemicals lead to infertility, overweight, diabetes, neurological disorders, hormone-induced cancer forms, and other health problems.

Hormone-disrupting substances are everywhere in the environment

There are an estimated 85,000 chemicals in our environment. Around one thousand are thought to have a hormone-disrupting effect. The hormone-disrupting substances are able to disturb the hormone balance in a variety of different ways, either as individual chemicals or combined as a dangerous cocktail.
The most common hormone-disrupting chemicals are bisphenol-A and phthalates (plastics), parabens (preservatives), chlorinated pesticides, dioxins (industrial burning), mercury, and hormone pills.
It is difficult for the body to break down and excrete the hormone-disrupting compounds. Therefore, they are stored mainly in the fatty tissues.
Moreover, the dangerous chemicals accumulate in the food chain so that predatory fish like tuna are able to contain concentrations that are thousands of times greater than the amounts found in shrimp and small fish.

Bisphenol-A is found in such items as plastic containers, tin cans, plastic fillings in teeth, lacquer, and glue. It activates those genes that are responsible for controlling the growth of breast cancer cells. While the EU is hesitant about forbidding Bisphenol-A, the chemical has been removed from different organic brands such as Änglamark.

Phthalates and PVC are used as plasticizers in rain clothes, printing inks, adhesives, synthetic leather etc.

Women are more exposed

The researchers gathered data from 4,667 adults who took part in the comprehensive NHANES study (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) during the period 2005 to 2010. NHANES is designed to collect data about diet and health. The study participants, which represents a large portion of the United States, had their vitamin D levels tested. Also, analyses were made of their urine before and after exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.
The study revealed that people who were exposed to large concentrations of phthalates were more likely to have low vitamin D levels in their blood compared with those who were only exposed to limited quantities. The study also showed a link between bisphenol-A exposure and lower levels of vitamin D in women. However, a similar significant correlation was not observed in men.

The reason why women are more sensitive to hormone-disrupting substances may very well lie in the fact that their hormone system is more complicated.            

The sensitive hormone balance

The scientists claim that the hormone-disrupting chemicals may alter the active form of vitamin D through some of the same mechanisms by which they influence other hormones in the body. Because we humans are able to synthesize vitamin D from sun light and a cholesterol precursor in our skin, vitamin D is often named a hormone itself. Furthermore, vitamin D is chemically related to the steroid hormones, namely the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and the stress hormone, cortisol, which is also made from a cholesterol component.
Our entire hormone system is like a huge symphony orchestra, and if one group is out of sequence, it may cause a number of symptoms.
The new research shows that not only do the hormone-disrupting substances affect our hormone balance, they even disturb the metabolism and utilization of vitamin D, a nutrient that has a variety of essential functions.

Did you know that all cells in the body need vitamin D, and that vitamin D controls 5-10 percent of our genes?

Avoid hormone-disrupting substances and get plenty of vitamin D

It pays off to try the best you can to avoid hormone-disrupting substances. For instance, stick to eco-labeled products, prefer organic foods, and avoid creams and cosmetic products that are known to contain hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Always make sure to get enough vitamin D, especially during the winter where there is too little sun to produce the vitamin in the skin.
Because hormone-disrupting substances are able to lower levels of vitamin D in our blood, there is a good chance that we need more vitamin D than officially recommended. Therefore, it is advisable to take a strong vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin D is lipid-soluble. The body is able to utilize it if it is dissolved in oil in gelatin capsules.                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Endocrine Society. Chemical exposure linked to lower vitamin D levels. ScienceDaily 2016

Juliana Lopes et al. Melatonin decreases estrogen receptor binding to estrogen response elements sites on the OCT4 gene in human breast cancer stem cells. Genes & Cancer. 2016

Pernille Lund: Sund & Smuk hele livet. Ny Videnskab 2016

Pernille Lund: Det er hormonerne. Forlaget Klitrose

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