Sunshine Vitamin: The importance of Vitamin D to Boost Your Immune System

Have you ever been locked inside your house on a rainy day and wished you were at the beach? This sunshine vitamin, commonly known as Vitamin D, is produced when sunlight hits our skin, especially on sunny days in summer.

You may not have heard of anyone you know who has fallen and fractured their bone. Thanks to vitamin D, these problems cannot occur. Vitamin D is more than just a bone-building vitamin. It helps your immune system as well. But how does it do it?

Today, we will discuss what vitamin D is, why it’s essential, and how it helps to boost your immune system? Let’s get started.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, also known as calciferol” is a fat-soluble vitamin belonging to the D-1, D-2, and D-3 families. 

When exposed to direct sunshine, your body naturally generates vitamin D. Certain foods and supplements, on the other hand, can help to ensure appropriate levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Particularly if you have a deficit, vitamin D may help to prevent respiratory infections or lessen their severity. Some medical professionals advocate using vitamin D supplements to improve your immune system. A number of critical but beneficial activities are carried out by vitamin D, such as calcium, phosphorus absorption, and immune system function.

Why is Vitamin D Important?

In the United States, as well as across the world, many individuals do not consume enough vitamin D. To find out if you’re receiving enough of this vitamin, you must undergo a costly blood test. However, new research continues to demonstrate the importance of this vitamin to human health. Calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood are maintained by vitamin D. These two nutrients strengthen your bones. In the absence of vitamin D, your body can only absorb a tiny quantity of calcium from your food and a little more than half of the phosphorus from your diet. When your body does not absorb enough calcium and phosphorus, your bones become fragile and easily shatter.

Ideal Dosage and Preparation

In the United States, the Institute of Medicine’s 1997 and 2010 guidelines for vitamin D consumption are:

Birth to 1 year – 400 IU/day (10 mcg)

Between 1 and 70 years – 600 IU/day (15 mcg)

Over 70 years – 800 IU/day (20 mcg)

Pregnant and nursing women – 600 IU/day (15 mcg)

So, to reduce vitamin D deficiency, you may ask what is the best source for vitamin D to intake?

Well, the main source of vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun. However, the American Academy of Dermatology advises that we should obtain vitamin D from foods and supplements rather than UV exposure because of the risk of skin cancer.

You can obtain vitamin D from alternative sources as well. For instance, fatty fishes like herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in vitamin D. Furthermore, vitamin D are also found in egg yolks, cheese, and cow liver but at considerably lower quantities than in eggs.

Moreover, certain types of mushrooms, particularly those exposed to UV radiation, contain vitamin D. Besides food, you can also take Vitamin D supplements. Other than pills and capsules, vitamin D supplements are also available in the form of gummies, liquid or chewable tablets. In addition to this, cod liver oil is still in use. Vitamin D2 and D3 may be found in supplements and fortified meals. For optimal absorption, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the recommended form.

What are the Roles of Vitamin D for Immune Health?

Vitamin D has a vital role in immune function, and a lack of it increases your vulnerability to infection. According to Dr. Jacyln Tolentino of Parsley Health in Los Angeles, low serum levels of calcidiol, which is a form of vitamin D, are linked to increased susceptibility to infections such as tuberculosis, influenza, and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract.”

He also said that vitamin D’s main function is to help activate T cells, also known as “killer cells” in the body. T cells are able to detect and destroy foreign pathogens, such as viruses. As a result, “vitamin D is especially important for maintaining a healthy immune system that can fight off foreign pathogens.”

As we know, coronavirus affects the respiratory system, but researchers and clinicians do not yet understand how vitamin D increases your chance of contracting COVID-19. Vitamin D is believed to boost the immune system, which might help protect you from a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Role in Cancer Management

Although it’s difficult to separate the effects of vitamin D and calcium. Moreover, observational studies and preliminary lab studies suggest that higher vitamin D and calcium intake may be associated with lower cancer risk (especially colorectal cancer).

According to a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people with the highest vitamin D levels had a 50 percent decreased risk of colorectal cancer.

On average, 1,179 women over the age of 55 were given calcium, vitamin D3, or a placebo throughout four years. Women who took calcium and vitamin D and those who had greater vitamin D levels at the start of the trial had a considerably lower risk of all cancer types combined.

Managing Common Colds and Flu

The flu virus causes the most illness in the winter, so some experts believe that vitamin D levels are linked to influenza. However, winter is the time of year when vitamin D levels are lowest.

According to observational studies, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of respiratory infections. In a research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, almost 340 youngsters were randomized to receive a daily vitamin D supplement (1,200 IU) or a placebo over the winter. Besides all the good news, there are also alarming effects you should consider before consuming excessive amount of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is fat-soluble. As a result, unlike vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins, it can accumulate in the body and induce hazardous effects if consumed in large amounts. Slow accumulation means hazardous levels might take months or years to achieve.

Too much vitamin D can lead to excessive blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), which can cause calcium deposits in soft tissues. Such as the lungs or heart, disorientation, renal damage, kidney stones, nausea, vomiting, constipation, weight loss, and low appetite.

Moreover, you should avoid taking vitamin D and calcium along with thiazide diuretics. Because Vitamin D may interact with the medicine and lead to excessive calcium levels in the body. And those who’re using calcium-channel blockers shouldn’t take vitamin D or calcium, without the supervision of a doctor. So, that’s everything regarding the benefits of vitamin D for immune system building. 

Anika Bushra
Creative, strategic and collaborative professional with hands-on-experience and broad knowledge in Copywriting, Content Writing, Campaign Ideation, Feature Writing, Public health, Biochemistry, Molecular biology, Genetic engineering as well as Biotechnology. Currently working on sustainable agriculture projects and my recent mission is to discover new things related to sustainable developments

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