Better get yourself some good morning sunshine, as a study on says that vitamin D can help healthy people stay in tip-top shape.

Whether it is synthesized by the body either through sun exposure or through ingestion, vitamin D has been known to help avoid the risk of musculoskeletal diseases. However, researchers have found that it also alters certain genes and lowers the risk of developing infectious autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer.

Experts from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) worked with eight healthy adult male and females who had either vitamin D insufficiency (between 21 to 29 nanograms per milliliter of blood) and deficiency (lower than 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood). For two months, three participants were given 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D supplements a day, while five were given 2,000 IUs. All throughout the study, samples of white blood cells were taken to monitor if the activity of 22,500 genes have been affected by vitamin D intake.

After two months, those who were given 2,000 IUs a day achieved the recommended amount of vitamin D at 34 nanograms per milliliter of blood, while those who were given only 400 IUs still had an insufficient amount.

Upon studying the white blood cell samples, researchers found that 291 genes were significantly altered by the vitamin D supplements, including "160 biologic pathways associated with cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer." This may mean to say that taking in vitamin D may help strengthen the immune system on a genetic level.

Professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at BUSM Michael F. Holick says, "This study reveals the molecular fingerprints that help explain the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D. While a larger study is necessary to confirm our observations, the data demonstrates that improving vitamin D status can have a dramatic effect on gene expression in our immune cells and may help explain the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk for CVD, cancer and other diseases."

So take your time to bask yourself in the early sun, or make sure to take vitamin D supplements as recommended by your physician. Doing so may help you stay healthy.

(Photo by Bruce via Flickr Creative Commons)

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