Vitamin D is an important vitamin that has a great impact on a few systems throughout the body. Unlike other vitamins, this vitamin functions like a hormone, and every cell in the body has a receptor for it.
Vitamin D is found in certain foods like fortified dairy products and fatty fish, though it is hard to get enough from diet alone. The body produces it when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
That’s why vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter months, particularly in countries far north of the equator. Levels of this vitamin tend to drop in winter, because people do not get frequent sun exposure.
One of its most significant roles is keeping the immune system strong so that it can increase the body’s ability to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness. It acts as an immune system modulator, as it helps increase macrophage (a kind of white cell) activity and helps prevent excessive inflammatory cytokine production.
It also helps protect against respiratory infections by increasing the levels of anti-microbial peptides (natural antibiotic-like substances) in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, preventing respiratory infections.
Conventional health authorities point out that getting a flu shot every year is the most effective way to prevent the flu. However, vitamin D may be a more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least one decade.
Getting more sunshine and taking a vitamin D supplement may prevent many cold and flu cases. Vitamin D may lower the incidence and severity of the flu and other infections of the respiratory tract.
Vitamin D Supplementation May Lead to a 50% Decrease in the Risk of Flu Infections
Scientists and doctors from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan carried out a scientifically controlled, double-blind trial that involved 354 six- to fifteen-year-old kids who were divided in two groups. Kids in the first group received a daily dose of 1,200 IU of vitamin D3 over a period of 90 days (between December and March,) whereas those in the second group received placebo.
In the 1st month, kids in the vitamin D group became ill just as often as those in the placebo group. However, in the 2nd month, when the vitamin D level in their blood was higher, its advantage was clear.
31 of 167 kids in the placebo group caught influenza A, the most common type of the virus, in comparison with only 18 of 167 in the vitamin D group. This means that kids in the vitamin D group were about 50% less likely to catch influenza A.
Vitamin D was also found to suppress asthma attacks in kids with a history of asthma. During the study, only 2 kids in the vitamin D groups had asthma attacks, in comparison with 12 kids in the placebo group.
According to Japanese doctors, the risk of kids suffering from the flu may be decreased by up to 50% if they take a vitamin D supplement. This vitamin is naturally produced by the body when exposed to direct sunlight, costs little, has no significant side effects, and may be a few times more effective than anti-viral vaccines or drugs.
That’s not all, a global collaborative study also confirmed that taking a vitamin D supplement could help protect against acute infections of the respiratory tract. The study, a participant data meta-analysis of twenty-five randomized controlled trials including more than 10,000 participants, was published online in The BMJ.
The research team was led by Doctor Adrian Martineau, a clinical Prof. of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London. According to Doctor Martineau, vitamin D supplementation seemed to lower the infection risk around 10%. Participants that had vitamin D deficiency when they enrolled in the studies had a 50% lower infection risk.
Here Is What You Need to Know about This Vitamin:
– Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is more readily absorbed by the body and more effective than ergocalciferol (vitamin D2,) which’s the type of vitamin D often found in multivitamins.
– Many experts claim that the right daily dose of vitamin D for adults is around 5,000 IU.
– Healthy vitamin D serum levels are between 70 and 90 nanograms per milliliter.
– The best blood test to determine vitamin D adequacy is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D.