How Can Vitamin D Help Boost Your Immune System
Backing up a second here: Vitamin D, aka calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin thats naturally present in a few foods, like fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks, per the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements . Its produced in your body when UV rays from the sun hit your skin and trigger whats known as vitamin D synthesis.
Vitamin D can do a slew of different things in your body, including strengthen your bones, reduce inflammation, and help with immune function, the NIH says.
Heres the big reason why vitamin D can be helpful as a supplement, per Dr. Adalja: Some people are deficient in it, meaning they dont get enough of it on a regular basis.
As for the link with immune function, one systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 11,321 people published in the BMJ found that people took weekly or daily supplements of vitamin D were less likely to develop respiratory tract infections than those who didnt. People who were the most deficient in vitamin D had the biggest benefit.
Another systematic review and meta-analysis of 5,660 people published in PLOS One found that vitamin D supplementation had a protective effect against respiratory tract infections, with a daily dose being the most effective.
Vitamin D Strengthens Your Bones
Vitamin D is famous for its bone-building and strengthening powers. vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium in your gut, which ultimately allows for normal mineralization of your bones,Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook, tells Health. Basically, the calcium that benefits your bones wouldn’t be able to do its job without vitamin D. You need vitamin D for bone growthand to prevent bones from becoming brittle. When teamed with calcium, it can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that signifies that the density and quality of bone are reduced, she adds.
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.
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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.
Too Much Of A Good Thing: Overdoing Vitamin D
It’s important to not overdo vitamin D supplements since taking unsafe amounts of it can have negative effects on your health, like kidney problems, kidney stones, or hypercalcemia, a toxic condition where there is too much calcium in the blood. Generally, taking more than 4,000 IU per day is considered too much.
This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before you take a supplement, and also ask for a test. If you think you get a decent amount of sun, eat foods with vitamin D regularly, and your levels are healthy, your doctor will likely say you don’t need any extra.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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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.
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
As of 2014, experts predicted that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D or a deficiency making it one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. If you suspect you are low in vitamin D, you should ask your doctor for a test. This way you can make sure you are supplementing the right levels if you do need more. Always ask your doctor before starting a new supplement.
The recommendation for vitamin D for adults is between 600-800 IU, although that number is up for debate among the science and medical community.
There are three ways to get vitamin D: through food , from direct sun exposure on your skin and through supplements.
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Vitamin D And Hair Loss
Some hair fall every day is normal, and is part of a follicle moving through each phase of hair growth. But if youre starting to notice more hair than usual in your hair brush or the drain, you may have one type of hair loss that can be affected by vitamin D and T-cell mediated immune function.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which hair falls from the scalp in round patches all over the head. This is a little different than other types of hair loss due to things like stress, PCOS, or pregnancy, for example.
Alopecia areata is associated with reduced vitamin D levels, but researchers are still working to find out why exactly this is .
Vitamin D Crucial To Activating Immune Defenses
- University of Copenhagen
- Scientists have found that vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin – the killer cells of the immune system — T cells — will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. The research team found that T cells first search for vitamin D in order to activate and if they cannot find enough of it will not complete the activation process.
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system — T cells — will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.
For T cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or viruses, the cells must first be ‘triggered’ into action and ‘transform’ from inactive and harmless immune cells into killer cells that are primed to seek out and destroy all traces of a foreign pathogen.
The researchers found that the T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant, ‘naïve’ to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.
Chemical Reaction that Enables Activation
Activating and Deactivating the Immune System
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Does Vitamin D Help The Immune System
Does vitamin D help the immune system? Yes it does and in this article we will look at some of the research papers on Vitamin D and its role in helping prevent against infections. We will also look at how it helps your overall immune health.
So if you are interested in understanding how vitamin D can help you, keep reading.
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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Vitamin D And Immune Health
Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, and a deficiency in it is shown to increase your susceptibility to infection. “Some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is even associated with greater risk of self-reported upper respiratory tract infections,” Tolentino says. Further, “low serum levels of calcidiol are also associated with higher susceptibility to infections like tuberculosis, influenza, and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract,” Tolentino says.
One of the main functions of vitamin D is to help activate T cells, aka the “killer cells” in the body. T cells actually detect and destroy foreign pathogens — like viruses. “That makes vitamin D especially crucial for maintaining a functioning immune system that’s capable of fighting back foreign pathogens,” Tolentino says.
It’s important to know that although the coronavirus does affect the respiratory system, researchers and doctors know little about how vitamin D affects your risk of catching COVID-19 at this time. The best ways to reduce your risk of being infected with the coronavirus is to follow CDC and WHO guidelines, what your local officials say and to take care of your health as much as you can overall. Vitamin D is known to help the immune system, which is promising for protecting you from many different types of illness.
Exposing your skin to the sun is one way to get vitamin D.
Vitamin D Status And Immune Function
It is important to recognize that most of the genome-wide analyses that have explored the immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D in vitro have focused on treatments using active 1,25D or one of its synthetic analogs. However, as outlined above, pathogen-induction of an intracrine system in cells such as monocytes/macrophages strongly suggests that regulation of immunity in vivo is independent of endocrine, systemic 1,25D. Instead it is likely to be primarily driven by local activation of 25D, the major circulating form of vitamin D and determinant of vitamin D status in any given individual. Thus, it is not surprising that translational studies have focused on the relationship between serum 25D and human immune function, including effects on both innate and adaptive immunity.
Figure 2. Altered gene expression in leukocytes from vitamin D-deficient donors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were obtained from 6 healthy donors who had serum 25D levels that were either low or high . After isolation of RNA and generation of cDNA, gene expression analyses in the PBMC samples was carried out by DNA array analyses . Data are shown as genes that were either increased or decreased in low 25D donors relative to high 25D donors .
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Other Effects Of Vitamin D
Since vitamin D helps with several other functions in your body apart from immunity, vitamin D deficiency can lead to problems such as back pain, muscle pain, fatigue, depression and other issues.
However, too much vitamin D in your body can cause vitamin D toxicity, which is a buildup of calcium in your blood, according to Mayo Clinic. A buildup of calcium in your body can lead to vomiting, frequent urination and nausea. This type of toxicity is often caused by taking large doses of vitamin D supplements. However, you are unlikely to get vitamin D toxicity from spending too much time in the sun or from eating a lot of vitamin D rich foods.
Best Vitamin D Supplements
California Gold Nutrition Vitamin D3 2000 IU Softgels: available at iHerb
Our take: These softgels provide vitamin D3 from lanolin. One capsule contains 2000 IU, which is enough for an adult to take each day.
What we like: Vitamin D3 is immersed in a base of fish gelatin softgels, which dissolve better than hard pills. Free from gluten, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, crustacean shellfish, GMOs and soy.
What we dislike: The potency of the pills can quickly degrade if not stored properly.
Now Foods Vitamin D3 5000 IU Softgels:availableat iHerb
Our take: An affordable pick compared to other supplement brands that still offers a high potency.
What we like: Each chewable tablet contains 5,000 IU of vitamin D3. We like that they do not contain added sugars but are instead sweetened by sugar alcohols, which have fewer calories compared to traditional sugar. Soy and GMO free.
What we dislike: May cause symptoms such as stomach upset and diarrhea if taken in large amounts.
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Is Vitamin D A Soluble Mediator Of Uv Radiation Immune Effects Or Just An Epiphenomenon
It is very well known that UV radiation is essential for Vitamin D synthesis, in particular for the photoconversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholecalciferol in the epidermis. The production of this vitamin represents one of the most important beneficial effects of sunlight exposure. Vitamin D synthesis and its impact on human health have been extensively reviewed in many of the cited papers and it is not our purpose to analyze once again the relevance of this process.
Finally, to conclude this topic, there is a very good review by Dr. Byrne, which we completely agree with, that presents a conclusion about a clinical trial on the use of Vitamin D in autoimmune diseases suggesting that boosting Vitamin D levels alone may not have the desired therapeutic effect and that there is something else about UV exposure that explains the protective properties of sunlight .
What Is Vitamin D Good For
Though our bodies naturally produce vitamin D, you still need this crucial vitamin to support bone health and our complex immune systems.
Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight in the form of vitamin D3, and you get vitamin D2 through vegetables. Both of these help to keep your immune system at its best to fight off diseases and attack foreign cells. You can also get vitamin D through fish, red meat, egg yolks and vitamin D fortified foods.
To learn more about the various sources of vitamin D and how this vitamin supports your immune system, continue reading.
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Vitamin Ds Role In Immune Function: In Vitro Data
The importance of vitamin D in the regulation of both the innate and adaptive immune system was demonstrated by the discovery of the presence of VDR expression in almost all cells of the immune system, as well as the presence of the metabolizing hormones in immune cells . Also, gut epithelial VDR is important in protecting the mucosal barrier integrity and regulating the gut innate immunity . The effect of vitamin D on immune cells is complex, as illustrated by the fact that VDR expression in immune cells is differently controlled according to their corresponding activation status. For example, T-cells gain a higher concentration of VDR upon activation with an increase that is already significant after eight hours and reaches a maximum 48 h after activation . Monocytes on the other hand lose VDR expression by differentiating into either macrophages or dendritic cells . In immune cells, the 1-hydroxylase enzyme, although the same enzyme as in the renal tubules, is not regulated by negative feedback by 1,25-2D3 itself . As immune cells also express 24-hydroxylase, this is only minimally regulated by 1,25-2D3 and depends on the activation status of the immune cells . Essentially, vitamin D results in a shift in the immune status towards a more tolerogenic status .