- Posted on Sunday, 01 September 2013
Got a cold? Flu season approaching? Typically you're likely to reach for some extra vitamin C, zinc or echinacea. What you may not realise, however is that you may be overlooking a vital immune-enhancing nutrient - vitamin D3.
D3 or Cholecalciferol is produced in the skin on exposure to sunlight, but as we get precious few glimpses of sun during the cold, winter months, we are unlikely to be meeting our needs. In fact, some researchers suggest that one reason that we are more prone to colds, flu and infection in winter is due to lack of vitamin D production as a result of darker days.
Although vitamin D is also available from dietary sources (oily fish, eggs, and butter), nutritional researchers generally agree that the need for this key nutrient cannot be met through diet.
Nearly all the cells of the immune system have vitamin D receptors, meaning that to some degree, they depend on vitamin D to function effectively. Vitamin D is also involved in the production of antimicrobial proteins to protect you from infections.
Vitamin D may also play a role in the management of autoimmune conditions. In these situations the immune system, rather than protecting the cells and organs, gets confused and actually attacks them. Researchers have found patients with autoimmune diseased were typically deficient in vitamin D.
According to a recent update from the prestigious Harvard Medical School, the only way to ensure an adequate intake of this vital nutrient is through supplementation.
- In the UK around 1 in 5 adults of South Asain origin, may be Vitamin D deficient.
- Vitamin D requirements cannot be met through diet alone.
- A healthy immune system requires adequate amounts of vitamin D.