You are more likely that not to be at least vaguely aware of the link between Vitamin D the Immune System and Covid-19, but is it all on the level, and can we take that advise to the bank? While it is true the research is in its infancy in term of offering outright clinical proof, the results so far are pretty positive, so let’s take a look how far we have come.
How Can We Benefit From Vitamin D
Whether you are thinking about taking vitamin D to protect yourself from Covid-19 or just considering a healthier lifestyle, there are certain benefits from having it in sufficient amounts. A deficiency is seen as a potential risk factor for serious illness brought on by respiratory disease, which is exactly what corona-virus does for you.
Taking this line to the next stage a vitamin D deficiency is something seen in a group that we have all heard about, and that is those with underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These conditions are common in the elderly who don’t receive enough vitamin D as aging and obesity reduces the body’s ability to make D through exposure to natural sunlight.
The job of Vitamin D is to support the body in a number of ways from fighting inflammation and contributing to cell growth. It supports antiviral responses such as creating antimicrobial peptides in the white blood cells that have antiviral and antibacterial properties, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin D And Immune System
So this seems to suggest vitamin D can protect from corona-virus but it’s not as straight forward as that. It’s early days in the fight against covid-19 but a previous study for way back in 2017 targeted the effect of vitamin D supplements on acute respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinusitis. The results saw that out of those using Vitamin D supplements, 12% were less likely to become infected, and out of those with a deficiency the use of vitamin D reduced the likely hood of becoming infected by 70%. Fair enough, this was not a study based on fight covid-19 but the result speak volume when we consider the protection against respiratory infections.
Is Vitamin D For Me?
So right now there may not be enough solid evidence to confirm the use of vitamin D is the magic bullet, but what it does say is plenty of people could benefit from getting more. If we put covid aside and look at this in terms of general health it’s fair to say some groups will really benefit although just a word of warning, it is harmful to overdose on vitamin D so always ready the label. A recommended daily doses is between 1,000 and 4,000 international units (IU).
That out of the way, people in their 60s and those with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and lung disease can benefit from the health giving properties of vitamin D. As an important note it has been noted that people of color, breastfed infants, as well as those on certain medications are in a high risk group that would also benefit.
Where To Get Vitamin D For Immunity?
It’s always best to get your vitamin D the natural way through a good balance diet or more accurately a balanced intake. The best foods fortified with D are fatty fish, Mackerel, Salmon and tuna, plus diary products, soy milk, egg yolk, beef and liver.
Natural sunlight is a good source although sunscreen and covered skin reduces the body’s ability to produce vitamin D. With the importance of avoiding dangerous UV rays that product premature aging and skin cancer, the next option if you are not reaching your target intake is a supplement.
Vitamin D Immunity Deficiency
You may be wondering how you would ever know someone had a vitamin D deficiency so let’s take a look at some of the more serious illnesses brought about by a lack of vitamin D. There are of cause a variety of symptoms from muscle weakness, to high blood pressure, bone pain, and depression, but it doesn’t stop there so it’s not always obvious. If you have changed your lifestyle recently and started to see signs of deficiency it’s worth speaking to your care provider.
There are many heart related diseases and not all of them are obvious bedfellows to vitamin deficiency but look at it this way. If vitamin D can reduce blood pressure then a whole myriad of cardio vascular diseases can be avoided such as atherosclerosis, hypertension diabetes, and stroke.
Prostate Cancer and Low Vitamin D
A somewhat shocking link has been suggested between low levels of vitamin D and Prostate Cancer back in 1014, where the low blood levels of vitamin in European-American and African-American men could be responsible for aggressive prostate cancer. The suggestion was African-American men with low vitamin levels were more likely than other men to test positive for the cancer.
Although the study was not conclusive, it is shocking enough to convince most men that prevention is better than cure, so plenty of visits to the doctor and the health intake of vitamin D for the high risk group. When we speak of high risk groups here we can think of men in their 60s. The American Cancer Society says 66 years old is a common age for diagnosis, and it’s the most common cancer in men, and second most common cause of cancer death in American men.
Observational studies have linked vitamin D deficiency in older adults with a increased risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is the decline in function bring about changes in thinking and behavior, and affects the memory, Alzheimer’s being the most common form equating to 80% of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Overall it was found those in the study with lower levels of vitamin D were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, while those with severely deficiency were over 120% more likely to develop that neurodegenerative disorder.
A Journal of Sexual Medicine study found men with severe erectile dysfunction (ED) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than men with mild ED, so what does this mean?
An erection is reliant on good blood flow unimpeded allowing the penis to become engorged. If the arteries do not have proper function so there is no dilation the condition endothelial dysfunction occurs. It is thought vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the impediment of the arteries as it is already linked to arterial stiffness in healthy people.
This condition is most common male sexual problem affecting 30 million American men, often stemming from other health conditions like diabetes, prostate cancer, and high blood pressure.
This seems crazy but observational studies have suggested the severe brain disorder affecting 1.1 percent of American adults is more likely in those with low level of vitamin D. The symptoms of Schizophrenia include hallucinations, incoherent speech, withdrawal from others, and trouble focusing or paying attention, and often appear between the ages of 16 and 30.
It is suggested those with a vitamin D deficient could be twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.
Dietary Intake To o Boost Immunity
So we have heard that we are in peril if we don’t get enough D and we know the best way to get through food, sunshine and supplements, but primarily it’s through our dietary intake we should try to concentrate on. That being said, what’s the best place to find D in the natural world?
Some of this you will mot likely know and maybe some you didn’t, so let’s dig in.
Vitamin D is found in fatty fish with Omega-3 is a good source, so to is salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel and some sea foods that all help strengthen the immune system.
Zinc is an immune system booster, so much so if it was not present the white blood cells could not function. The recommended daily intake or minimum amount needed for protein is 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram of body weight.
This mineral abundant in meats like oysters, poultry, seafood, beef, and lamb. The healthy option being lean food stuffs like chicken or for vegan or vegetarian options tempeh or tofu could be a option.
Magnesium in dark chocolate’s may strengthen antibodies to fight off disease, and I suspect make a large percentage of the populate with happy to hear it. Our immune system made up of lots of components and proteins like antibodies, lymphocytes, and macrophages working hard to repel unwanted guests, magnesium is the mineral helping lymphocytes bind to invaders preventing antibodies from being impaired.
Vitamin C is key to immunity as an antioxidant helping to rid the body of free radicals. Without antioxidants we can suffer Oxidative stress that is linked to increased risk of stroke, cancer, and diabetes
Great foods for vitamin C are Citrus and Leafy Greens oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens like kale, and bell peppers. It is important to know vitamin C is heat sensitive so cook gently any foods containing C.
Vitamin E, Selenium, and more Magnesium are great for the immune system and can be found in nuts and seeds so this can be great for snacking healthy. For example 1 Brazil nut has a full daily selenium requirement. Vitamin E and Selenium are antioxidant has been shown to improve the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses, and we have already met Magnesium.
Good sources are sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and pecans.But don’t over do it because there is a calorie concern to taking too many nuts.
Garlic and Onions are super foods. When garlic is cut, chopped, crush it releases a substance with antiviral and antibacterial properties called allicin. Similarly Onions release a substance called quercetin that helps help regulate histamine response and contains antiviral properties.
Yogurt is another amazing product with a positively affect on the immune. I am sure you have heard of good bacteria, well yogurt is full of these things called probiotics that support good gut health. If a large percentage of our immune system is gastrointestinal tract, then is stands to reason a daily dose will do some good. Just avoid added sugar or flavors in favor of unsweetened.
The Take Away
Well, if you have go this far thanks for staying with me, we got there in the end. The bottom line is that many things are really just unknown and not clinically proven but even with this in mind the message is clear. Eat healthy to maintain health, but avoid the damaging sun by using sunscreen and not going out in the midday sun unprotected. But also understand what and how much you are putting in your body because it matter, and if you need more then use supplements be be careful and only take what is needed and correct.
Depending on your age and risk group you should take supplement to help stay healthy, and frankly, the same goes for those in low risk groups. I do!
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