Australia is in the grip of a hidden epidemic of "sunshine vitamin" deficiency, according to one of the world's foremost experts, US Professor Michael F. Holick.

Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, Prof Holick has called for annual testing of all Australians after a study found up to 58% of Australians could be vitamin D deficient during the spring months1.

The acclaimed author of The Vitamin D Solution, Prof Holick will educate health professionals at the inaugural BioCeuticals® Research Symposium to be held in Sydney on 10-11 May.

Prof Holick will discuss ground-breaking research that indicates increasing vitamin D levels may not only support healthy bones but improve immune function and reduce the risk for many diseases2.

The study, co-authored by Prof Holick and conducted by Boston University, found that improving vitamin D levels could positively impact the genes associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases.

"For the first time, this study shows direct evidence that improving vitamin D levels plays a large role in improving immunity and lowering the risk for many diseases," Prof Holick said.

"The randomised, double-blind, single-site pilot trial involved men and women who were vitamin D deficient or insufficient at the start of the trial. Participants were given varying levels of vitamin D supplementation during the two month trial.

"At the end of the pilot, the group that received the highest levels of vitamin D supplementation achieved the required healthy level of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D).

"However, a broad gene expression analysis found that 291 genes were altered simply by increasing vitamin D levels. These 291 genes are related to 80 biologic pathways linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease.

"This study shows that vitamin D is more than the 'bone health vitamin'."

"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 cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases."

About the BioCeuticals® Research Symposium

Themed Research, Innovation, Reality, the BioCeuticals® Research Symposium on 10-11 May in Sydney will feature world renowned researchers who will share vital research that has the real ability to transform lives and optimise health in Australia.

Key international speakers will include:
  • Professor Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD - world leader in vitamin D for human nutrition.
  • Dr Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO - international expert in Naturopathic Oncology, Integrative & Preventative Medicine.
  • Mr Mark Blumenthal - world leading herbal medicine specialist, Editor of HerbalGram, the international peer-reviewed journal and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council (ABC)
  • Dr Nigel Plummer, PhD - international specialist in microbiology and probiotic bacteria.
Key topics will include:
  • New research advances on Probiotic therapies for gut health
  • Complementary and integrative medicine for mood disorders and anxiety
  • Metabolic nutrients for cardiovascular health
  • Clinical insights in hormonal/women's health
  • Cutting edge research into benefits of vitamin D.
  • New advances to reduce cancer risks through Nutritional Medicine