Vitamin D is one of the most powerful nutrients for your body. You can get this essential vitamin from foods, supplements, or sun exposure (but don’t forget the sunscreen!). While many people equate vitamin D with building strong bones, it’s also crucial for your immune system.
Can Vitamin D Boost Your Immune System?
There’s been a lot of talk about vitamin D and its role in disease prevention lately. While no one vitamin is a miracle worker, you do need proper nutrition for a healthy lifestyle. And that includes getting nutrients like vitamin D daily.
Regarding the immune system directly, here’s how vitamin D can help.
Preparing for Flu Season
A 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing with vitamin D3 during the winter months could decrease seasonal flu risk.
Supporting Lung Health
Some studies show an association between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of lung-related diseases. According to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, too-low levels have also been linked to lung development issues.
Helping the Immune System Fight
Your immune system is complicated. Proteins and cells work together to fight against potential infections. And in many cases, how you eat and live will impact the state of your immunity.
This is where nutrients like vitamin D can support you. According to research in Immunology, there may be a link between a higher risk of infection and not getting enough vitamin D.
You can bolster your natural immunity by consuming enough vitamins and minerals each day. Vitamin D is just one of the nutritional building blocks to thriving health.
Your body needs vitamin D for many reasons. Besides supporting the immune system, here are some other roles according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- Bone health and growth
- Glucose metabolism
- Inflammation reduction
- Neuromuscular function
- Brain health
- Helping your body use calcium
How to Consume Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a powerful nutrient that we all need. You can get it from foods like salmon, red meats, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified foods.
Your body also creates vitamin D from sunlight. However, some people don’t get enough sun exposure during the winter months—or at all. And some struggle with low vitamin D levels no matter what. Thankfully, supplementation can help fill the gaps or avoid future deficiencies.
Vitamin D Needs: How Much Per Day?
The recommended daily vitamin D amounts are:
- For babies up to age 12 months: 400 international units (IU)
- For ages 1 to 70 years old: 600 IU
- For ages 71 and older: 800 IU
Experts say proper doses of vitamin D are typically safe. Very high doses (over 4,000 IU per day) might cause side effects like constipation, nausea, or confusion, but most people aren’t consuming that much. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
The Bottom Line
There are many sides to healthy immune function. Besides getting enough sleep, eating whole foods, reducing stress, and supplementing as needed, vitamin D is an essential piece of the puzzle.