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Is Vitamin D Deficiency Associated With Higher Oxidative Stress?

Morgan Chamberlain
Author: Expert reviewer:
January 9, 2022
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
By Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Image by Ivan Ozerov / Stocksy
January 9, 2022

A new study published in 1Cureus1 reveals that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased levels of oxidative stress. This novel research finding points to healthy vitamin D levels (i.e., addressing vitamin D deficiency) as a method to strike healthy antioxidant versus oxidant balance, aka homeostasis.* 

Vitamin D deficiency in the United States.

Vitamin D deficiency is the reality for many millions of Americans. The fact is, 29% of U.S. adults are deficient, and 42% are insufficient2 in vitamin D. If you think that's shocking, here's an even more revealing statistic for you: Over 93% of Americans3 are failing to consume just 400 I.U. of vitamin D daily from food alone (and we need way more than that).

If vitamin D deficiency is so common, can it really be that bad? Unfortunately, the potential health consequences of inadequate vitamin D can be quite systemic and even spell danger—take oxidative stress4, for example.

What is oxidative stress, exactly?

Basically, oxidative stress occurs when antioxidant defenses (i.e., the body's ability to detoxify reactive products) are unbalanced by an accumulation of oxygen reactive species (aka free radicals). In regular doses, oxidative stress is a normal and even critically useful function within the body (e.g., with immune response) but one that requires a delicate and intentional balancing act—both daily and throughout life.

The link between vitamin D deficiency & increased oxidative stress.

This is where it gets a little scientific. Researchers have identified thiol/disulfide (T/DS) homeostasis to be a promising and innovative way to quantify oxidative stress levels. A biomarker, if you will. But, "what the heck is T/DS homeostasis?" you may be wondering. Glad you asked!

Thiol/disulfide homeostasis is the balance (or equilibrium) between thiols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and their oxidized forms: disulfides. Thiols regulate intracellular redox metabolism and are the first antioxidants to be consumed in diverse biological settings when oxidants are present. In these settings, native thiols are oxidized and form disulfide bond structures. 

Disulfides can also be cut down again into thiol structures, which successfully restores balance. Full circle. For this reason, T/DS homeostasis is an innovative way to assess the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in the body for optimal organ function and overall health.

The study results.

Armed with this knowledge, the scientists working on the Cureus study were inspired to look at T/DS homeostasis in relation to vitamin D status. In women and men deficient in vitamin D, as well as in a control group (i.e., with sufficient vitamin D levels), the researchers measured thiol, total thiol (i.e., the sum of thiol and disulfide levels), and disulfide values.

Those with 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, levels above 20 ng/mL, were considered "sufficient" (though at mbg, we certainly wouldn't call these levels optimal) while those below 20 ng/mL were considered deficient.

As it turns out, thiol and total thiol levels were found to be significantly higher in the vitamin D deficiency group when compared to the control group. Additionally, T/DS balance shifted in the direction of thiol in the vitamin D deficient group.

The "so what" of this technical yet important study is this: Those with sufficient vitamin D levels are more likely to possess a healthy balance of antioxidant activity, while those with subpar vitamin D levels (vitamin D deficiency) are more likely to experience increased levels of oxidative stress (yet another reason to get enough vitamin D daily and throughout life!).*

The solution.

Luckily, a high-quality vitamin D supplement can directly combat and solve vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency.* Considering that 29% and 41% of Americans are deficient and insufficient in vitamin D2, respectively, and vitamin D is nearly impossible to obtain from the sun and diet alone, many would be wise to add vitamin D to their daily routine.*

mbg's vitamin D3 potency+ is a high-potency D3 formula (i.e., science-backed dose of 5,000 I.U.) derived from the highest-quality, sustainable organic algal oil source—plus, built-in absorption technology with organic oils from olives, avocado, and flax—to promote optimal vitamin D levels in the body with just one daily gelcap.* 

The bottom line.

Additional research will no doubt further unveil vitamin D's relationship with oxidant versus antioxidant homeostasis. For now, this evidence indicates that sufficient vitamin D levels are linked to lower levels of oxidative stress, which is promising for cellular health, immunity, graceful aging and longevity, and more.* 

mbg's director of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, concludes with this insight: "In case folks needed one more reason to get their vitamin D levels in check, we can add this to the list: supporting our antioxidant defenses on the daily and striking an equilibrium between oxidants and antioxidants. Yes, please."*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Morgan Chamberlain author page.
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.