Vitamin D for a long time has been associated exclusively with calcium and phosphorus bone homeostasis. Children were considered the most in need of vitamin D.
However, recent research has shown that vitamin D has more functions than was known in the past. Also, research has found that approximately 20% of the population is deficient in vitamin D.
There are cells called T-cells that are developed in the thymus gland. They are the key cells in the immune response.
Scientists from the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology of the University of Copenhagen performed several studies on vitamin D. They discovered a crucial role of vitamin D for the T-cells’ activation and hence, the immune response. Before a T-cell is able to attack and destroy pathogens, it has to be activated. Vitamin D is the key to the activation from a dormant to the “ready-for-action” state. Lack of this vitamin will result in T-cells primarily remaining inactive.
” We have discovered that the first stage in the activation of a T cell involves vitamin D, explains Professor Carsten Geisler from the Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology. When a T-cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it has an immediate biochemical reaction and extends a signaling device or ‘antenna’ known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D. This means that the T-cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T-cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize. “
Once activated, T-cells become one of the 2 types of immune cells: killer cells that destroy the foreign pathogen, or helper cells that aid in acquiring the immune “memory”. This kind of memory will assist in providing a better response the next time the pathogen is detected.
Professor Geisler added that the findings “could help us to combat infectious diseases and global epidemics. They will be of particular use when developing new vaccines, which work precisely on the basis of both training our immune systems to react and suppressing the body’s natural defenses in situations where this is important – as is the case with organ transplants and autoimmune disease.“
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and it is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”. The body naturally produces vitamin D as a result of the skin’s exposure to sunlight. But, did you know that air pollution, tiny particles suspended in the air, are effectively blocking the UV light? UV light of the B-spectrum is also almost completely absorbed by glass. Sunscreen has a very similar effect. In reality, we often don’t get the amount of sunlight required to produce vitamin D, even in summer.
Other sources of vitamin D include foods like egg yolks, fatty types of fish, fortified milk and some others.
If you think you require a therapeutic dose of vitamin D, please, consult your doctor first.
A simple blood test can be done to verify vitamin D deficiency. However there is a safe dosage a number of experts recommend: 10 micrograms or 400 IU a day, a safe immune-boosting amount for an average adult.
Sometimes vitamin D3 is combined with vitamin K2 in an two-in-one supplement. Vitamin K2 has a potential to improve bone health and prevent calcification of blood vessels.
Source for the above research: https://news.ku.dk/all_news/2010/2010.3/d_vitamin/