Vitamin D Is Crucial For Immune Health
The surprising role it plays for your body’s immune system and how it can ward off respiratory infections.
Vitamin D is important for many functions in your body, not just your bone health.
The global coronavirus pandemic definitely left people wondering how to keep themselves well. You know that social distancing, working from home and staying inside in general is one way to protect yourself — but are there other measures you can take?
Boosting your immune system is one of the best things you can do because it is your body’s key defense when it comes to fighting a virus. Even if you are exposed to a virus, the coronavirus or others, if your immune system is strong, you have a better chance of not getting sick. Vitamin C is a popular choice for supporting immunity, but another key nutrient for your immune system is vitamin D. Once thought as the vitamin for strong bones, vitamin D actually does a lot more for your body — including support your immune system.
Studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent respiratory infections or reduce the severity of them, especially if you have a deficiency. They jury’s out on how exactly it can protect you from the coronavirus, but some medical experts recommend taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your immune system.
What Is Vitamin B12
If you are looking in particular for supplements to support your immunity, vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin can be a good start. Vitamin B12 is one of the eight water soluble vitamins under the B-vitamins group, essential in red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis as well as in the functions of the bodys nervous and immune systems .
Vitamin B12 can mostly be found in animal products such as red meats, fish, eggs, cheese and milk . While there are some plant-based sources of vitamin B12 such as algae, most humans will get about 25% their vitamin B12 from animal foods .
Vitamin Metabolites And Lymphocyte Homing
Roles of retinoic acid and 1,252VD3 in tissue-specific lymphocyte homing
Although vitamin A deficiency decreases the number of T and B cells in the small bowel lamina propria,,,, it does not affect lymphocyte migration to the colon. Analogously, GALT-resident DCs imprint T and B cells with homing capacity for the small bowel, but they do not induce colon-homing T cells. Therefore, retinoic acid is neither necessary nor sufficient to imprint colon-homing lymphocytes. The molecular signals that are responsible for lymphocyte homing to the colon and the reasons why T-cell migration to this compartment is controlled differently from homing to the small bowel are still to be determined.
Regarding the migration of ASCs, it has been proposed that CCR10 might have a role in the homing of IgA+ ASCs to the colon, mammary glands and probably to other mucosal compartments . However, it is currently unclear how CCR10 expression is induced by ASCs. Recent reports indicate that IgA+ ASCs might acquire CCR10 expression in colonic patches or in iliac lymph nodes following rectal immunization and that the expression of this receptor can also be induced by 1,252VD3 in human ASCs. However, 1,252VD3 does not induce CCR10 expression in murine ASCs in vitro and VDR-deficient mice have normal numbers of CCR10+ IgA+ ASCs, which indicates that 1,252VD3 might not be necessary for the induction of CCR10 expression by B cells in vivo, at least in mice.
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Vitamin C As An Antioxidant
Various environmental factors can fill our body with harmful molecules known as free radicals. These free radicals hinder your immune system from protecting your body. Antioxidants help kill those free radicals, so your immune system functions normally.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that kills free radicals and protects other components in the body, such as proteins and nucleic acids.
Vitamin B12 As Part Of Cancer Immunotherapy
All these findings raise the question if there is a well-founded need to supplement our food with vitamin B12 in order to prevent future cancer development. Again no unanimous response exists. In a case-control study in Australia, vitamin B12 intake was not found to associate with childhood brain tumor risk . Similarly, increased intake of it does not correlate with decreased risk of colorectal cancer , and also there is no significant effect when combine with folic acid and vitamin B6 on colorectal adenoma and on total invasive cancer or breast cancer risk among women at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Dietary and multivitamin supplement intake of cobalamin does not correlate with ovarian cancer diagnosis , nor with breast cancer . In contrast, patients with high dietary intake of vitamin B12 have decreased tumor suppressor methylation of genes related to head and neck cancers . Offspring of rats fed on vitamin B12-rich diet during pregnancy has significantly decreased breast cancer incidence, tumor multiplicity, and tumor volume .
The second question to answer is where it is relevant to include vitamin B12 in the nutrition scheme of cancer patients. To date, vitamin B12 is officially included as supplement to pemetrexed treatment . In such patients, cobalamin efficiently reduces the toxicity of the main treatment .
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Effects On Adaptive Immune
Vitamin A metabolites can also affect some aspects of the adaptive immune response . Retinoic acid enhances cytotoxicity and T-cell proliferation, the latter probably mediated, at least in part, by enhancing IL-2 secretion and signalling in T cells. Consistent with an in vivo role for vitamin A in T-cell function, vitamin A-deficient mice have defects in TH-cell activity. A possible mechanism for this observation is that in the setting of vitamin A deficiency, retinoic acid does not compete with 1,252VD3 for their common nuclear binding partner RXR and, therefore, the inhibitory effects of 1,252VD3 on T-cell function are not offset by retinoic acid.
Effects of vitamin A metabolites on gut mucosal immunity
Retinoic acid can inhibit B-cell proliferation,, although it has also been found to enhance B-cell activation under some conditions,. In addition, retinoic acid inhibits B-cell apoptosis. These effects are mediated through binding of vitamin A metabolites to RAR receptors.
Ways To Naturally Incorporate Vitamin B12 Into Your Life
For the most part, incorporating B12 into your diet is sufficient to maintain a normal level of this vitamin in your body. B12 is a widely available vitamin that is found in foods such as shellfish, meat, dairy, eggs, and fortified cereals and grains. Over-the-counter supplements are another way to incorporate B12 into your diet.
Individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency can benefit from shots and infusions. Intravenous doses of B12 bypass the digestive system, making this type of delivery a great option for people who are unable to ingest oral supplements due to certain medical conditions.
While the amount of B12 is the same across both shots and infusions, the benefits are slightly different depending on which option you choose.
- B12 shot: A concentrated dose of Vitamin B12 that is delivered directly into the bloodstream for a fast, convenient boost of your mood, energy levels, and immune health.
- B12 infusion: Vitamin B12, among other vitamins and minerals, is administered directly into the bloodstream by way of an intravenous saline solution, providing hydration as well as immune, mood, and energy boosts.
Certain individuals may have difficulties absorbing vitamins orally due to illnesses or other preexisting conditions. Both shots and infusions are delivered directly into the bloodstream, ensuring a 100% absorption rate for both shots and infusions.
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It Can Be Mistaken For Dementia
“Symptoms of a deficiency often mimic those of dementia, such as memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty thinking and reasoning,” says Middleberg. It can be hard distinguishing deficiency from dementia, especially since older folks are at risk for both. And the two conditions often overlap: 75% to 90% of B12 deficient people also have neurological complications such as dementia, says Moon. But even when a B12 shortage strikes younger people, it still typically resembles dementia. Experts aren’t exactly sure of the relationship between the two, but patients with unexplained cognitive decline should be tested for B12 deficiency, suggests Moon.
Maintain High Levels Of B12
B12 is essential to a healthy immune system, as well as a healthy brain, robust red blood cell count, and DNA maintenance. in the body can severely limit immune responses. Foods naturally high in B12 include meat, milk products, poultry, and fish, as well as nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, nori seaweed, and tempeh.
What Is Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as tocopherol. Tocopherols are a group of antioxidants with Vitamin E activity, often found in skincare and dietary supplements that help to scavenge free radicals, boost immunity and protect the body from oxidative stress.
It has distinctive antioxidant qualities which, in addition to supporting a healthy immune system, is involved in cell signaling, regulation of gene expression and other metabolic processes.
More simply, Vitamin E is a naturally occurring vitamin that can be found in numerous foods and plants but is also readily available in numerous forms and as an over the counter vitamin supplementation. Its primarily known as a powerful antioxidant, though studies have connected proper Vitamin E consumption to a range of other health benefits.
What Determines Your Nutrient Needs
Although each of these vitamins and minerals are essential in the support of a healthy immune system, the amount you need for healthy functioning is determined by your nutritional needs. The nutritional needs of all people can differ based on a variety of factors, such as gender, age, genetics, weight, physical activity level, and the nutrients that are able to be absorbed by the body through regular food intake.
In particular, age is one of the most informant factors about the type and amount of nutrients necessary to support healthy infectious & immune health. For example, recall that vitamin B12 becomes more difficult to absorb naturally from food as people age this is true of other micronutrients, particularly zinc.
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Vegetarians And Vegans Are At Risk
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal products. So if your diet largely consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, beans, and soy, you’re at risk for deficiency. “Vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy should aim to include at least one source a day from both of these food groups,” Stephanie Middleberg, RD, nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City, tells Health. Veganswho by definition consume no animal productsneed to take a supplement or consume vitamin B12fortified foods, such as breakfast cereal and grains. Other foods fortified with B12 include nondairy milks and meat substitutes. But not all of these foods are fortified, so check the label first to make sure.
Foods With B Vitamins
Although B vitamins are naturally found in many foods, they are easily destroyed by alcohol and cooking. Food processing also strips foods of their B vitamin content, especially in white flour, white bread, and white rice.
Because your body cant store all of the B-group vitamins, its important that you continuously get them through your diet. Here are five foods that are high in B vitamins:
1. Whole Grains
Because food processing removes nutrients from grains, you want to eat whole grains that have not undergone this process. Grains high in B vitamins include:
- Brown rice
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It’s Hard To Overdo Vitamin B12
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins that accumulate in your body and can have side effects in excess, B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body only absorbs a small amount and the rest is excreted through urine, says Middleberg. That’s good news if you need to refill your stores of this nutrient but worry about taking too much. But keep in mind that large amounts of B12 at one time may cause diarrhea and all-over itchiness, she adds. If your doctor recommends supplements, read the label and take only the amount recommended by your MD.
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Cansupplements Help Your Immunity
While vitamins andsupplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, the best way to load up onessential nutrients is to get them straight from food.
Your body absorbs and usesvitamins and nutrients better when they come from a dietarysource. When its a vitamin or supplement, its often questionablehow much youre actually getting. Because supplements are regulated asfoods, not as drugs, the Food and Drug Administration doesnt evaluate thequality of supplements or assess their effects on the body.
Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements havent been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups.
Its especially important to avoid taking vitamin E supplements. Not only is there little clinical research showing that vitamin E supplements benefit your health, but they may also be harmful in some situations.
For these reasons, expertssay its best to get vitamins through food rather than supplements.
Talk with yourhealthcare provider if youre thinking about taking dietary supplements,Zumpano says.
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How Vitamin B12 Supports The Immune System
Vitamin B12 and folic acid are both vital for immune function. Both are necessary for producing a sufficient number of red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. If you have a folate deficiency and/or vitamin B12 deficiency, your immune system may start to falter, and your body will struggle to ward off pathogens. Red blood cells are crucial immune cells which are part of your bodys immune response so its important to ensure theyre able to form and function correctly.
A lack of vitamin B12 in your diet or through supplements can lead to pernicious anaemia. Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack stomach cells, thus inhibiting the bodys ability to absorb vitamin B12. Although the cause of this condition is unknown, supplements can help with the symptoms of pernicious anaemia.
As you can see, vitamin B12 is a key vitamin for helping to maintain a healthy immune system and maintaining levels of both vitamin B12 and folic acid will help to prevent conditions such as pernicious anaemia and folate deficiency.
Metabolism Of Vitamin B12
In the human body, cyanocobalamin is easily hydrolyzed to hydroxocobalamin. After the hydrolysis, it is converted to one of the two active formsmethylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin . Both forms act as enzyme cofactors.
Vitamin B12 is involved in two main enzymatic reactions. The first reaction, involving methylcobalamin, is remethylation of amino acid homocysteine to methionine and is catalyzed by methionine synthase . In this reaction, 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid participates as a methyl group donor, while cobalamin is only an intermediate acceptor of the group.
Metabolism of cobalamin in humans.
In cobalamin deficiency, the synthesis of methionine is impaired and toxic amino acid homocysteine accumulates . Vitamins B12, B6, and B9 are working together to control the levels of homocysteine in the blood . Homocysteine acts as a neurotoxin and as a toxin for the blood vessels increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the laboratory diagnostics, high level of homocysteine is one of the signs of B12 deficiency .
The synthesis of methionine also produces tetrahydrofolic acid, which is essential for a number of folate-dependent reactions , such as DNA synthesis . The loss of this function is demonstrated in individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency, which explains why cobalamin deficiency often mimics folic acid deficiency.
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How To Help Support Your Immune System
Caring for your immune system can be complicated and stressful especially if you dont quite know how best to go about it. With this in mind, Berocca takes a look at how to help support your immune system
What is your immune system and what does it do?
The human immune system is a complex composition of cells and proteins working to protect our bodies from infection. It can even recognise germs that it has encountered previously, thereby being able to destroy these interlopers quickly should they enter the body again.
Ways to help support your immune system
Most medical experts agree that a healthy lifestyle and diet can help support immune system function. Below are a few suggestions:
- Eat a diet consisting primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables, with minimal processed foods
- Get a good nights sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Keep good personal hygiene habits
- Try and reduce stress levels
These measures can each contribute positively to the immune system.
Exercise and the immune system
Exercise and general well-being go hand-in-hand, but frequent fitness sessions can have a positive effect on the immune system too. Theres no clear answer why. However, one theory posits that by raising core body temperature through moderate physical exertion, you stop bacteria from growing like with a fever.
Whatever the science, theres little dispute regarding the benefits of consistent physical activity, including:
Vitamins contributing to normal immune function
Find the right
Boosts Production Of White Blood Cells
Bone marrow helps create white blood cells, which fight off disease and infection. The most important kinds of white blood cells are phagocytes and lymphocytes. Phagocytes kill foreign bodies such as viruses, while lymphocytes help produce antibodies.
Vitamin C boosts the production of these white blood cells and helps them function more effectively. It also protects the white blood cells as they flow through the body, fighting off free radicals and protecting your body from infection.
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