By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Vitamins are considered essential nutrients because either your body cannot make them or they are made in inadequate amounts to prevent negative health consequences or diseases. So it’s essential that you provide vitamins for your body by food or supplements.
Vitamin D is also called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for strong bones, muscles and general good health. There are two main forms of vitamin D, which are D2 known as ergocalciferol and D3 known as cholecalciferol. (1)
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood. (2)
The immune system protects the body against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies and attacks a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, while distinguishing them from the body’s own healthy tissue. (3)
Vitamin D has important functions beyond those of calcium and bone homeostasis which include modulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses.
A Review Published by GundaSiska ,PharmD, 2019-09-20 ,concluded that; Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with worsening autoimmune diseases. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with frequent infections. Vitamin D helps our immune systems stay balanced during the cold and flu season. (4)
What can you do to boost your immune system?
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
- Improve immunity with herbs and supplements.
Causes for Vitamin-D Deficiency? (5)
- A major challenge to overcoming our high rates of Vitamin D deficiency is that it’s not easy to maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin D through our modern diet and lifestyle.
- You don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet
- You don’t absorb enough vitamin D from food.
- You don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.
- Your liver or kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form in the body.
- You take medicines that interfere with your body’s ability to convert or absorb vitamin D
How Do I Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone& it is also play a vital role in in your nervous, muscle, and immune systems.
You can get vitamin D in three ways:
Through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements.
Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. But too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer; so many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources. (6)
Why Vitamin D is important for your immune system?
Vitamin D works as a kind of light switch in your body, turning on or off genes and processes that your body needs to maintain health. Active Vitamin D is sent to many different areas of your body, including your bones, intestines, colon, brain, and immune cells, which all have Vitamin D receptors. The active Vitamin D binds with these receptors and promotes Vitamin D responsive genes, essentially turning them on.
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D reduce your risk of infectious disease by strengthening your innate immune system. Vitamin D turns on key peptides in your immune system that trigger a strong anti-microbial response, allowing you to quickly and effectively fight off invaders before they can develop into a full-blown infection. (7)
How much vitamin D do I need?
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends a daily supplement of 400 IU/day (10 μg) of vitamin D for Indians under situations of minimal exposure to sunlight. (10)
Sources of vitamin D?
There are a few foods that naturally have some vitamin D:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna.
- Egg yolks
- Get vitamin D from fortified foods. You can check the food labels to find out whether a food has vitamin D. Foods that often have added vitamin D includeMilk, Breakfast cereals.
- Other dairy products, such as yogurt
- Soy drink
- Vitamin D is in many multivitamins. There are also vitamin D supplements, both in pills and a liquid for babies.
If you have vitamin D deficiency, the treatment is with supplements. Check with your health care provider about how much you need to take, how often you need to take it, and how long you need to take it.