Strengthening your immune system may help defend against respiratory viruses and aid in faster recovery. Researchers are currently exploring how Vitamin D may play an important role in reducing respiratory inflammation, boosting immunity and increasing overall health.
The National Center for Biotechnology recognizes Vitamin D as a prohormone. This means that it’s an endocrine hormone that has wide-ranging influence throughout the body. There are Vitamin D receptors in every tissue and organ. The two major forms are D2 and D3. D2 is largely human-made and added to foods. D3 is synthesized in our skin via sunlight and is also consumed through eating animal-based foods.
The National Academy of Medicine recommends that healthy adults need on average, 600 IU of Vitamin D daily until the age of 71. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2005 to 2006 found that over 40% of adults have a D3 deficiency. A simple blood test can detect whether your levels are healthy or deficient.
Vitamin D Research
Vitamin D has been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections such as COVID by lowering the rate of replication. The prohormone also reduces the pro-inflammatory cytokines that damage the lungs and lead to pneumonia.
- UK Nutritional Immunology Research found that “Inflammation is a key component of the immune response…This could be very important in the context of severe COVID-19 which manifests as uncontrolled inflammation, the so-called cytokine storm.”
- U.K. Researchers also evaluated average Vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as the death rates, across 20 European countries. Populations with low average Vitamin D blood levels had higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
- A University of Southeastern Philippines researcher evaluated the Vitamin D blood levels of 212 people diagnosed with COVID-19. He found the D3 blood levels were lowest in those in critical condition and highest in those with a milder infection.
(Take note that as of July 2020, these research studies have not yet been peer-reviewed and randomized controlled trials still need to be conducted.)
Top Sources of Vitamin D
Salmon is a popular fatty fish that contains Vitamin D. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, a 3.5-ounce serving of farmed Atlantic salmon contains 526 IU of Vitamin D, or 66% of the recommended daily value.
However, keep in mind that eating more salmon is not a cure-all, comprehensive solution. Michael Holick, the leading authority on Vitamin D says, “You cannot get an adequate amount of Vitamin D from your diet alone.”
Vitamin D is nicknamed the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ because D3 predominantly uses ultraviolet B (UVB) light to synthesize in the skin. Simply going out for a 15-minute walk in the sunlight twice a week is a sufficient source of D3 for light skin tones. Darker skin tones may need extended exposure to process melanin.
Dr. Holick recommends the following best practices to safely absorb sunlight:
- Always protect your face and the top of your ears. Those are the most sun-exposed skin areas.
- Aim for 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to your arms, legs, abdomen and back. After that, apply sun protection such as a 30-SPF or higher sunblock.
- Choose the right time of day to go out. If your shadow is longer than your body height, your body can’t make D3. Going outside between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the optimal window for significant sun exposure.
Holick helped develop the dminder app to recommend optimal sun exposure times. The app uses multiple factors including time of day, location and skin type to suggest the best time of day for your unique body type to absorb UVB light. Consider using the app to track your exposure and prevent sunburn.
Holick also recommends taking Vitamin D supplements in appropriate doses for adults and children. When it’s too hot to go outside in the summer, or when sunlight exposure is limited in the winter, supplements are a recommended source of D3.
Increase your immune health with a weekly 50K IU Vitamin D supplement.
Contact Natural Bio Health
At Natural Bio Health, we understand the vital role that hormones play in your body. If you would like to learn more about your unique nutrient and hormone levels, we’re here to answer your questions.
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