Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies around the world. One study revealed that 36 percent of healthy adolescents and 57 percent of adults in U.S suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
Most of us only associate vitamin D with the bone’s health, but it’s closely linked to our immune system, and that’s why widespread deficiency is concerning.
Vitamin D and your immune system
Vitamin D acts as light switches in our body, turning on and off processes and genes that our bodies need to maintain health. It is sent to various parts of your body including immune cells, intestines, bones, the brain and the colon.
Sufficient levels of vitamin D strengthen your innate immune system, which reduces the risk of infectious diseases. It turns on key members in the immune system that trigger an anti-microbial response which allows your body to effectively and quickly fight off invading microbes before they can develop into severe infections.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen discovered that vitamin D plays a major role in activating the killer cells of the immune system  known as T cells. These cells are responsible for detecting and killing foreign pathogens such as viruses or bacteria, but they must first be triggered and transformed from a dormant and harmless status into killer cells ready to destroy any foreign pathogen. So if the T cells don’t find vitamin D, they won’t even mobilize, and this leaves your immune system unarmed.
For a long time, scientists have only associated vitamin D with calcium absorption, fighting diseases such as cancer and combating some heart disease. Identifying the role of vitamin D in the immune system was a breakthrough; not only to the immune system but also in addressing anti-immune reactions and rejection of transplanted organs.
How to get more vitamin D
As we can see, vitamin D is clearly crucial in strengthening our immune system to fight against infectious and autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, vitamin D is not naturally found in most foods that we consume, which could lead to dizziness, weak muscles, and other symptoms. Below are some of the foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin D that might just help you to increase your intake.
- Vegetables and fruits: orange juices and beverages fortified with vitamin D, grain products.
- Milk and alternatives: soy beverages, milk, yogurt
- Meat and alternatives: egg, deli meat, beef liver
- Fats and oils: margarine and cod liver oil
Featured photo credit: Anelka via pixabay.com