Vitamin D and Immunity: exploring the connection – LivLong

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Vitamin D and Immunity: exploring the connection

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Classically, Vitamin D was known to regulate bone metabolism by controlling the balance of calcium. As research has advanced, scientists started noticing a connection between vitamin D levels and chronic illness. 

Most notably they found diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis all had an association with Vitamin D deficiency. What’s interesting is that all of these conditions have both an immune and an inflammatory component. As research continues to expand, it’s been found that Vitamin D is a critical component of the immune system, and in inflammation regulation. 

It’s been found that low levels of Vitamin D is highly linked to increased risk for chronic conditions and acute infections. Vitamin D is perhaps the most foundational immune nutrient, and one that is low in up to 80% of the Canadian population. 

The Basics

While Vitamin D is called a vitamin, but it acts more like a hormone in the body. It is a messenger molecule that signals different communication pathways in the body. 

When the immune system and vitamin D link was made, it was also discovered that it plays a regulatory role in both the adaptive and innate immunity. Both which are needed to protect our bodies from incoming bacteria and viruses! Vitamin D is able to work on both arms of the immune system because we have vitamin D receptors on almost every cell in the body! 

In addition to increasing the function of almost all immune cells in a general sense, Vitamin D is able to evoke and upregulate a protective  immune response to pathogens entering the body. Vitamin D also prompts the synthesis and release of antimicrobial compounds in the body further protecting it from infection and any bad guys that sneak in. 

Vitamin D and Viral Infections

Low serum levels of Vitamin D lead to increased viral load in the case of viral infection. This means, the rate at which the virus replicates in the body goes up with decreased vitamin D levels. What’s interesting… 

Scientists observe a seasonal trend with incidence of viral infections such as influenza and respiratory infections and vitamin D levels. When sunlight exposure is the lowest, resulting in populations with less Vitamin D, the rate and transmission of these infections skyrocket. 

Without Vitamin D,  the immune system cannot function properly, because of this, it is paramount to ensure that adequate levels are reached. Over 100 diseases, including all viral and upper respiratory tract infections are linked to low levels of vitamin D. 

Of Course, as always, an integrative approach that utilizes dietary, exercise and lifestyle management is paramount to an optimally functioning immune system! But, increasing levels of vitamin D is one of the lowest hanging fruits, that can substantially improve baseline immune function. We recommended supplementing with magnesium in addition to vitamin D, as magnesium helps the body to maintain sufficient levels. 

AORs Vitamin D is our go to- we love this product because it has a high bioavailability, it is easy to use and the titrated dropper allows for easy and individual dosing- even if families are sharing! Learn more about AORs Liquid Vitamin D here! 

Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin

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