In our most recent blog post, we discussed the importance of vitamins such as vitamin K2. Another crucial vitamin for healthy gut functions is vitamin D. Vitamin D represents a group of fat-soluble vitamins which are required for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, zinc (1). The most important in humans are vitamins D2 and D3. While this vitamin is often associated with the skin, it can be acquired from food intake just as well as from sunlight.
A study recently showed that a deficiency in vitamin D changes the intestinal microbiome and reduces vitamin B production in the gut. This means that there is a change in the type of bacteria living in our gut when we do not have enough vitamin D in our system (2). Furthermore, this lack of vitamin B leads to negative changes in our immune system. Our bodies suffer from increased inflammation and this can lead to autoimmunity – meaning our immune system is attacking healthy tissues and cells.
Finally, low levels of vitamin D have been linked with an increased risk of depression. Not only is this vitamin important for a healthy gut and a strong immune system, but also our mental health (3). It really is a molecule with several, diverse effects. Others include bone health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognition/dementia, pregnancy, and weight loss as well.
Therefore, it is very important to maintain normal levels of vitamin D in our blood.
What can you do?
1. Holick, Michael F. "High Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy and Implications for Health." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mar. 2006. Web.
2. Gominak, S. C. "Vitamin D Deficiency Changes the Intestinal Microbiome Reducing B Vitamin Production in the Gut. The Resulting Lack of Pantothenic Acid Adversely Affects the Immune System, Producing a "pro-inflammatory" State Associated with Atherosclerosis and Autoimmunity." Medical Hypotheses. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2016. Web.
3. Black, L. J., P. Jacoby, K. L. Allen, G. S. Trapp, P. H. Hart, S. M. Byrne, T. A. Mori, L. J. Beilin, and W. H. Oddy. "Low Vitamin D Levels Are Associated with Symptoms of Depression in Young Adult Males." The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2014. Web.
4. Jakobsen, Jette, and Pia Knuthsen. "Stability of Vitamin D in Foodstuffs during Cooking." Stability of Vitamin D in Foodstuffs during Cooking. Food Chemistry, 1 Apr. 2014. Web.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients needed in small quantities to sustain life. We need to take vitamins from food because the human body either does not produce enough of them or none at all. There are currently 13 recognized vitamins which are either fat-soluble (stored in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver) or water-soluble (do not get stored in the body for long - they soon get excreted in urine) (1).
As you might have learned from previous blogs, the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is colonized by a vast array of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota. The intestinal microbiota (microbes that harbours our gut) plays a pivotal role in food digestion and energy recovery, while it can also act as an important supplier of vitamins. In humans it has been shown that members of the gut microbiota are able to synthesize vitamin K as well as most of the water-soluble B vitamins (2).
Some subtypes of Vitamin K2 can only be supplied to the host through bacteria in the gut such as Ruminococcaceae, Bacteroides, Prevotella, Alistipes, Oscillibacter, Bilophila, Odoribacter and Barnesiella species. Moreover, it seems that the Bacteroides and Prevotella species are the most prevalent in generating different subtypes of vitamin K2 (6).
The current research on Vitamin K2 and health is extremely promising. It could have life saving implications for a lot of people. Unfortunately, the average intake of this important nutrient is incredibly low in the modern diet.
What can you do?
1. Leblanc, Jean Guy, Christian Milani, Graciela Savoy De Giori, Fernando Sesma, Douwe Van Sinderen, and Marco Ventura. "Bacteria as Vitamin Suppliers to Their Host: A Gut Microbiota Perspective." Current Opinion in Biotechnology 24.2 (2013): 160-68
2. Hill, M. J. "Intestinal Flora and Endogenous Vitamin Synthesis." European Journal of Cancer Prevention 6 (1997): n. pag.
3. Marques, Tatiana Milena, Rebecca Wall, R. Paul Ross, Gerald F. Fitzgerald, C. Anthony Ryan, and Catherine Stanton. "Programming Infant Gut Microbiota: Influence of Dietary and Environmental Factors." Current Opinion in Biotechnology 21.2 (2010): 149-56.
4. Mizuta, Toshihiko, Iwata Ozaki, Yuichiro Eguchi, Tsutomu Yasutake, Seiji Kawazoe, Kazuma Fujimoto, and Kyosuke Yamamoto. "The Effect of Menatetrenone, a Vitamin K2 Analog, on Disease Recurrence and Survival in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma after Curative Treatment." Cancer 106.4 (2006): 867-72.
5. Kubota, K., T. Sawada, J. Kita, M. Shimoda, and M. Kato. "6594 POSTER Effect of Menatetrenone, a Vitamin K2 Analog, on Recurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Surgical Resection â€“ Final Results of Randomized Controlled Study." European Journal of Cancer 47 (2011): n. pag.
6. Karl, J. P., X. Fu, X. Wang, Y. Zhao, J. Shen, C. Zhang, B. E. Wolfe, E. Saltzman, L. Zhao, and S. L. Booth. "Fecal Menaquinone Profiles of Overweight Adults Are Associated with Gut Microbiota Composition during a Gut Microbiota-targeted Dietary Intervention." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 102.1 (2015): 84-93.
7. Kidd, P. M. "Vitamins D and K as Pleiotropic Nutrients: Clinical Importance to the Skeletal and Cardiovascular Systems and Preliminary Evidence for Synergy." Alternative Medicine Review : A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010.
8. Filippis, Francesca De, Nicoletta Pellegrini, Luca Laghi, Marco Gobbetti, and Danilo Ercolini. "Unusual Sub-genus Associations of Faecal Prevotella and Bacteroides with Specific Dietary Patterns." Microbiome 4.1 (2016): n. pag.