Vitamin D and the Immune system
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THE ROLE VITAMIN D & IMMUNE RESPONSE
Vitamin D can help our immune systems stay strong and also fight off infections and viruses. Due to the lack of sunlight in the UK we do not get enough of this vitamin especially during the months of October through to March. Doctors are now recommending we take a daily supplement as low levels of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of infections such as influenza and asthma.
In our bodies, we have Vitamin D receptors and activating enzymes on the surfaces of all white blood cells. The role that vitamin D plays in keeping the immune system healthy is complicated because the immune system has to be perfectly balanced. If there is too much stimulation, autoimmune diseases can occur. If there is not enough immune system activity, we are susceptible to frequent infections.
Research carried out by Dr Marina Rode von Essen from the University of Copenhagen reported that “vitamin D ‘triggers and arms’ the immune system”. Researchers believe that vitamin D plays an important role in balancing the immune system.
The study looked at human T-cells in the lab and found that Vitamin D was responsible for the T-cells that fight infection.
Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight and it is also found in some foods such as eggs, oily fish, and many breakfast cereals. We can also take a daily supplement. One of vitamin D’s main functions is to promote calcium absorption and maintain adequate calcium levels in your blood and a vitamin D deficiency can result in bone loss.
A research study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Immunology. shows that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infection.
Recent studies have also shown that low Vitamin D levels appear to suppress cytokine storm in some patients and play a significant role in death rates. Vitamin D strengthens natural immunity and prevents overactive immune responses. Patients with severe Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to experience complications, according to the research.
The researchers analyzed the data from numerous hospitals across the world and discovered that patients from countries with high mortality rates, such as the US, UK, Spain & Italy, had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients in other countries that were not as affected.
Research determined that there is a connection between low Vitamin D levels and a hyperactive immune system (cytokine storm). A virus can be fatal due to this overreaction of the body’s immune system. Cytokine storm can damage the lungs severely and lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death. Daneshkhah, who led the study said. “This is what seems to kill a majority of patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself. It is the complications from the misdirected fire from the immune system.”
Vitamins D and K Work together!
Sufficient Vitamin D absorption keeps your blood levels of calcium high enough to meet your body’s demands. However, vitamin D can not control where the calcium in your body ends up. That’s where vitamin K comes in, it regulates the calcium in your body. Vitamin K is an essential, fat-soluble nutrient found in leafy greens, fermented legumes and vegetables, as well as in some fatty, animal-sourced foods, such as egg yolk, liver and cheese. It’s essential for blood clotting and promotes the accumulation of calcium in the teeth and bones.
Current evidence suggests that joint supplementation of vitamins D3 and K2 might be more effective than the consumption of either alone for cardiovascular and bone health.