The Key to Your Immune System You May Be Missing This Season
Flu and cold season is upon us. My brother works in a elementary school and he told me how he can see the sicknesses coming in waves, hitting the parents, taking down the teachers, and crashing into the students.
It is not uncommon to get a bug or two this winter, but getting sick shouldn't be considered “normal” should it?
It’s not till symptoms appear that most people start rushing to the health food stores, picking up packets of Vitamin C, Echinacea, Elderberry and other immune boosting nutrients. But there is one key component to having a powerful immune system that many people are lacking and you may be surprised by what it is…
The sunshine vitamin my friends, Vitamin D. Yes, Vitamin D is a powerful nutrient critical to keeping your immune system ready like a ninja to take on invaders.
Vitamin D is has two major forms, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. It acts more as a hormone than as a vitamin inside of the body. It is called the sunshine vitamin because the UV rays absorbed in the skin act by converting a pro-hormone in your body into Vitamin D3. In plants, the UV rays convert into D2.
Its active form, called calcitrol plays a role in many mechanisms in the body, you are probably familiar with its role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous for the growth of bones and teeth, but it also has shown to inhibit growth of cancer cells, stimulate the immune system and reduce viral infections.
The best way to obtain Vitamin D is through sun exposure. During this season, as the winter chill begins, we are bundled up and in doors more often. Our skin does not get the bare sun exposure, therefore we do not get as much Vitamin D. Not coincidentally, the colds and flus begin to make their rounds on our deficient bodies.
A recent study published in GMC genomics, suggests that Vitamin D is such a part of our innate immune system that it has been paramount to our survival for millions of years. Authors wrote that having adequate Vitamin D levels were key to “turning on” genes that were able fight during a microbial attack.
Vitamin D has such a vital role in our systems regulation that it actually prompts over a 1,000 genes to turn on and do their job. So what other important jobs may not be running optimally if we have a deficiency?
This is quite a concern since many researchers believe the deficiency has become rampant. Researcher Dr. Cannell, who has done extensive studies on the vitamin, believes that it may be as high as 95% of Americans with a deficiency.
So how much is enough? Adequate levels have been debated, however many experts agree that children can take 1,000-2,000 IUs and adults can take up to 5,000 IUs safely every day. Unfortunately it is hard to get Vitamin D from foods, only in small amounts from grass-fed dairy, eggs, liver, mushrooms and salmon. The best way is from sunlight on bare (no sunscreen) skin. In the summer months, when you are outside exposed to the sun you may not need to supplement at all, obtaining all that you need outside playing. But during the darker days when you are stuck inside you may want to get your Vitamin D levels properly checked (testing available here) and any sign of deficiency relieved, especially if you are battling any reoccurring infections, colds, or health issues.
So let your bare, beautiful skin enjoy that sun when it has a chance and don’t forget about this key player in optimal health and immunity.