Vitamin D And Autoimmune Disease
There is increasing epidemiologic evidence linking vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis , rheumatoid arthritis , diabetes mellitus , inflammatory bowel disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (reviewed in reference. Reports of low serum vitamin D predicting development of autoimmune disease in the future have been published for MS, autoimmune DM and RA. There is also data linking decreased in utero exposure to vitamin D and islet cell autoimmunity. Lower in utero exposure assessed by a lower maternal intake of vitamin D during pregnancy in women whose prospective child was at risk of developing autoimmune DM is associated with a statistically increased risk of the child developing pancreatic autoimmunity.
Vitamin D has also been shown to facilitate progression of existing autoimmune disease. In one study, 161 patients with an early undifferentiated connective tissue disease were followed for a mean of over 2 years. Most patients did not progress and remained in an undifferentiated state. Thirty-five patients went on to develop a defined rheumatologic diagnosis including RA, SLE, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, and Sjogrens Disease while 126 did not progress. Baseline characteristics of the two groups were similar. Importantly, the mean vitamin D level was significantly lower in the group that progressed to a definitive disease.
Why Experts Say You Should Be Taking Vitamin C Vitamin D3 And Zinc
- Why Experts Say You Should Be Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Zinc
While the warmer months promote the proliferation of bugs , the colder months can encourage the spread of other kinds of bugs .
Though theres no surefire way to avoid getting sick, enhancing your immune system is a smart place to start. Vitamins, essential minerals, and other nutrients are needed by the immune system to help protect your body from billions of potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, and other germs.
Some home remedies that support healthy immunity include such staples as garlic, ginger, and echinacea. But these arent essential for the immune system to work. Recent research has underscored the potential synergetic effects of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc in supporting the immune system.
Lets take a closer look at the benefits of this potent vitamin/mineral trio.
Tips For Boosting Your Immune System With Vitamin D
30 May 2013
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, I think it’s a good time to approach one of my favorite subjects: Vitamin D and sun exposure. Our beach days are sadly fading behind us for the year, so if you haven’t yet had your fill of fun in the sun, stop what you’re doing and head towards the waves, stat!
For those of you still here, let’s talk about post-summer sun exposure. If you live in a warm, sunny climate, you probably get a great deal of sun throughout the year. But most of us live in areas with moderately cold to bone-chilling winters, and it’s not so appealing to sunbathe in a snowstorm. What does all this have to do with vitamin D? Well, the skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun’s rays. That’s why people call it the sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D has been the subject of much research. In a recent study, researchers tested the idea of using vitamin D to boost the immune system. They measured the vitamin D levels in the blood of 247 children living in an extremely cold climate. At the study’s start, the average vitamin D level was 7 nanograms per milliliter . Levels under 20 ng/ml are considered a deficiency, so these children were severely deficient.
Perhaps most interesting was that the children who upped their vitamin D intake had half as many colds as those who remained severely deficient. This is just one study that shows that vitamin D is a powerful immune system booster.
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Are Very Low Uv Doses Free Of Immunomodulatory Effects
Does this type of irradiation impact only innate skin immunity? It is difficult to find evidences of adaptive immunity-based reinforcement by repetitive low UV doses. However, more than a decade ago, Khaskely et al. published a very interesting work on cutaneous leishmaniasis in mice model , in which an experimental infection with parasite Leishmania amazonensis was introduced after a UVB irradiation procedure that consisted of daily exposures to 25mJ/cm2 during four consecutive days . Twenty-four hours after the last exposure, mice were challenged intradermally with the parasite. They found that the development of skin lesion produced by the infection was significantly reduced by a pretreatment with low-dose UV irradiation. The authors also reported an increase in serum IFN- as a finding that could explain the control of the infection, since L. amazonensis is an intracellular parasite that is capable of surviving within the macrophages. This essential article raises new questions again: are repetitive low UV doses capable of predisposing adaptive immunity to a stronger response? Or does it only promote a better response of skin macrophages without T-cell activation? Is it possible to obtain similar responses in immune reinforcement with rlUVd once the infection has developed?
Foods That Support Immune Health
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy veggies like spinach and kale have vitamin C which helps support the immune system.
Eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel to increase your vitamin D intake.
Oysters, Red Meat and Poultry
Foods like oysters, red meat and poultry are all good sources of zinc.
Oranges and other citrus fruits contain vitamin C for immune support.
Fresh fruits like strawberries and cantaloupe are a great source of vitamin C.
Fortified grains, juices, or dairy
Breakfast cereals, orange juice, and milk products are often fortified with vitamin D and other good-for-you ingredients to help support your immune system.
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Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency
Dark skin. Melanin in skin doesnt absorb as much UV radiation, which inhibits the synthesis of vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin.
Age. As we age, our skin becomes less efficient at making vitamin D from the sun.
Location. If you live in a country with little sunlight, or if its too hot to spend time outside during the summer, you could become vitamin D deficient over time.
Diets low in fish and animal products, dairy.
Indoor lifestyle. With screen use showing no sign of decreasing, we spend more time inside, and less time outside during sunny months when we historically were exposed to more vitamin-D-synthesizing sunlight.
Obesity. Studies have shown a correlation with low serum vitamin D levels and obesity .
Malabsorption due to digestive diseases such as Crohns, celiac, IBD, or IBS, etc.
Vitamin D Can Help Strengthen Oral Health
Because vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, it plays a crucial role in supporting oral health, lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. A 2011 review in The Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association notes that while the research is scant, there’s an “emerging hypothesis” that the vitamin is beneficial for oral health, due to its effect on bone metabolism and “its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the production of anti-microbial peptides.”
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Dose Of Vitamin D Products
Studying effects of vitamin D3 on immune cells in vitro is an artificial situation, with continued exposure of these isolated immune cell subsets and too high doses of vitamin D products, mostly 1,25-D2D3, being induced. Often supra-physiological concentrations are employed that are not achievable in human peripheral blood. Still, these concentrations could be achieved in local sites of inflammation, as also many immune cells can produce vitamin D products themselves upon activation . Thus, the physiological relevance of the in vitro observations seems valid, but the translation to interventions with supplements of vitamin D products is problematic.
In animal models, it has been shown that in order to see any effect on disease modulation, the dose and route of administration of the vitamin D products are crucial. As such, in the T1D studies in NOD mice, therapy was only successful when doses of vitamin D or its metabolites or analogues were used that were at the edge of toxicity . In addition, continuous administration, leading to continued exposure to the high doses of the products was needed, often lifelong .
Translating in vitro studies and animal studies to humans, would mean using much higher doses of vitamin D products and thus reaching levels at which also side effects of hypercalcemia would be seen . In many studies in animals, investigators avoided hypercalcemia by lowering calcium intake of the animals, a detail often not noted by readers of the manuscripts .
Why Do I Need Vitamin D And How Do I Get It
You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. But too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer, so many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
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Advice For Infants And Young Children
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that babies from birth to 1 year of age should have a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they are:
- formula-fed and are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, as infant formula is already fortified with vitamin D
Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing vitamin D.
See the Healthy Start website for more information.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin D
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body . This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
Children aged 1 to 10 years should not have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms a day.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.
If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Page last reviewed: 03 August 2020 Next review due: 03 August 2023
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Your Money Might Be Better Spent On Something Else
During the winter months, you’ve likely seen ads for products that claim to give your immune system a boost to help you ward off colds and the flu. But can something in a bottle, whether a vitamin formulation or probiotic, really rev up your immune system to help you stay healthy?
“Unfortunately, the reality is that those kinds of products aren’t really offering you any benefit,” says Michael Starnbach, a professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School. “There’s no evidence that they help in fighting disease.”
To understand why, you need to know a little about how the immune system works. The very idea of boosting the immune system is flawed.
“The immune system is very finely tuned,” says Starnbach. There is a balance between an immune system that is effective at limiting the ability of bacteria, viruses, and parasites to cause infection, and a hyperactive immune system that can cause such problems as allergies, diabetes, and other types of autoinflammatory and autoimmune disorders.
“If there were a wholesale boost to the immune system, it could trigger autoimmunity and other problems,” he says.
How Does Vitamin D Affect Immune Health
Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system which is your bodys first line of defense against infection and disease.
This vitamin plays a critical role in promoting immune response. It has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, and is crucial for the activation of immune system defenses .
Vitamin D is known to enhance the function of immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, that protect your body against pathogens .
In fact, the vitamin is so important for immune function that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased susceptibility to infection, disease, and immune-related disorders .
For example, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , as well as viral and bacterial respiratory infections (
Vitamin D is critical for immune function. A deficiency in this nutrient may compromise immune response and increase your risk of infection and disease.
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Can Vitamin D Lower Your Risk Of Covid
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a number of critical roles in your body.
This nutrient is especially important for immune system health, leaving many people wondering whether supplementing with vitamin D may help reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
While theres currently no cure for COVID-19, preventive measures like physical distancing and proper hygiene can protect you from contracting the virus.
Also, some research shows that having healthy levels of vitamin D can help keep your immune system healthy and may protect against respiratory illnesses in general.
A recent study indicated that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had sufficient levels of vitamin D had a decreased risk for adverse outcomes and death .
This article explains how vitamin D affects immune health and how supplementing with this nutrient may help protect against respiratory conditions.
Vitamin D And Protective Immunity
Vitamin D has been used to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics. Tuberculosis patients were sent to sanatoriums where treatment included exposure to sunlight which was thought to directly kill the tuberculosis. Cod liver oil, a rich source of vitamin D has also been employed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as for general increased protection from infections.
Results of studies looking at potential benefits of administering vitamin D to decrease infection have not been consistent, most likely secondary to a number of methodologic concerns. One recent well-designed prospective, double blind placebo study using an objective outcome, nasopharyngeal swab culture , and a therapeutic dose of vitamin D showed that vitamin D administration resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the incidence of influenza infection.
The beneficial effects of vitamin D on protective immunity are due in part to its effects on the innate immune system. It is known that macrophages recognize lipopolysacharide LPS, a surrogate for bacterial infection, through toll like receptors . Engagement of TLRs leads to a cascade of events that produce peptides with potent bacterialcidal activity such as cathelocidin and beta defensin 4. These peptides colocalize within phagosomes with injested bacteria where they disrupt bacterial cell membranes and have potent anti-microbacterial activity .
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Is There Something Else In Sunlight Than Uv Radiation
Sunlight is a complex source of different types of radiation that includes UV radiation but it also exceeds it. The impact of a specific source of radiation on living organisms depends on the capacity of the cells to absorb it by producing molecules with a specific absorption spectrum. Once radiation is absorbed by these molecules, different cellular pathways can be activated. In this way, UV radiation is absorbed by DNA, cis-urocanic acid, and proteins, among other molecules, and promotes many of the very well-known effects mentioned before. But, are visible radiations absorbed by skin cells? Or in other words, do visible radiations directly induce any effect, either positive or negative, on skin health? The answer is yes. Laser therapies with visible wavelengths for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes are distributed worldwide, but do they only promote beneficial effects? What cellular pathway do they affect?
Sunlight effects on the skin and the immune system. The effects triggered by different wavebands of radiation are summarized, focusing on those effects described in the text. UCA: urocanic acid ROS: reactive oxygen species MMPs: matrix metalloproteases MED: minimal erythema dose DCs: dendritic cells LNs: lymph nodes.
Timing Of Intervention And Duration Of Exposure
In vitro studies typically start with naïve immune cells, freshly isolated from immune organs or blood of healthy subjects, which are then exposed for days to vitamin D3 products. In animal models, likewise, therapy is often started before disease onset or early on in the disease. Few studies have looked at effects once disease is overt, and those that have indicate that at that stage vitamin D products by themselves, even at high doses, are not disease altering anymore . In humans however, most intervention studies are late stage and study vitamin D monotherapies. In addition, in animal models, therapy is maintained for weeks and months, often during the whole life of the animal, whereas in humans, shorter duration studies happen.
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