When you're stressed out and want to build up your immune system during a pandemic, you may try anything. Still, there's a secret to fighting viruses— vitamin D. Nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin," most people connect its healing powers to calcium homeostasis (creation) and bone health. Yet vitamin D does much more than build healthy bones and teeth. It helps protect you from becoming ill during stressful times and may provide extra protection against respiratory infections. In this article, we'll explore why vitamin D is so important in building up your immune system.
It defends your body from invading organisms by boosting your immune system's response to viruses. When a virus enters your body, the first responders are your immune system. When you have optimal levels of vitamin D, your immune response is more robust. Vitamin D has immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties that supercharge your immune system defense. (1)
T-cells and macrophages protect from invading pathogens. Research shows that if deficient in fat-soluble vitamin, you're more likely to come down with the flu, infection, or disease. (2) Research indicates that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of respiratory diseases, including: (3)
During stressful times, such as a pandemic or during flu season, taking a vitamin D supplement helps ensure your immune system has everything you need. Vitamin D helps fight respiratory infections by boosting lung function.
According to research by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D helps prevent the flu. (4) While the importance of vitamin D has started to become more transparent in the past few years, in the past, cod liver oil and sunshine were part of a typical treatment plan for men, women, and children with tuberculosis or less commonly known as consumption. (5) A meta-analysis of two studies indicates that vitamin D has a beneficial effect in helping prevent and easing tuberculosis symptoms. (6)
Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease in the same category as other respiratory illnesses, such as Covid-19. While scientists are still beginning to study the connection between a vitamin D deficiency and the coronavirus, researchers Northwestern University say there may be a connection between those with a vitamin D deficiency and death rates. (7)
The researchers analyzed data on high mortality rates from COVID-19 in countries like Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. They then compared this information with countries that weren't as severely affected by COVID-19 and made a meaningful connection— vitamin D. In countries with high mortality rates, the people who died had lower vitamin D levels. In places with a lower death rate, patients had higher vitamin D levels. (8)
The lead researcher from Northwestern University, Vadim Backman, stressed in the Northwestern Now journal that people need to know that there seems to be a connection between COVID-19 mortality rates and vitamin D, but more research is required. However, it could result in coronavirus treatment plans using vitamin D to help patients recover.
Vitamin D primarily comes from soaking up some sunshine, healthy diet, and supplementation. All three are excellent ways to increase levels, but supplementation may be the easiest.
When you're outside, the sun's UV B light enters the skin. Inside the light is the vitamin D compound, but it's inactive. The amount of absorption depends on whether you're wearing sunblock, how long you're in the sun and the amount of melanin (pigment) in your skin. Once the inactive vitamin D enters the body, it moves to different organs, and once it reaches the kidney, it's then converted to vitamin D3.
However, 50% of the world's population isn't getting enough sun. You may not have enough exposure to sunlight when you're quarantined at home or working long hours in front of a desk. It only takes 15-20 minutes per day to soak up some vitamin D. Still, with everything else you have to worry about, you want a more reasonable solution, such as supplementation.
It may seem like a healthy diet is the answer for every vitamin deficiency. However, if you're deficient in vitamin D or want to boost your immune system, eating the right kinds of foods loaded with the critical nutrient provides the best immune boost. The following foods have high levels of vitamin D.
It can be difficult during stressful pandemics to pay attention to your diet or get outside. You have so many concerns that paying attention to your vitamin D levels may seem like too much.
Most people choose to take a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. Supplements come in different forms, including creams, tinctures, and capsules. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) outlines that adults take 600 IU or 15 mcg per day when deficient. (9)
You can easily make it a habit within a few days to get your daily dose of homemade sunshine with a vitamin D supplement. This way, you're giving yourself an immune boost that may protect you from dangerous viruses during flu season or a pandemic.