Vitamin D and Your Immune System
Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies we see in our clinic. In fact, nearly everyone who isn’t already supplementing their Vitamin D levels is low in this very important vitamin. Why are so many people deficient in Vitamin D? There are a few reasons:
- Not Enough Sun Exposure – Our primary source of Vitamin D is through sun exposure. But because of our modern lifestyle we’re spending fewer and fewer hours outside. On top of that, due to our fear of skin cancer, we’re typically wearing toxin-filled sunscreen, which reduces our ability to absorb Vitamin D by more than 90% if properly applied.
- Diets Lack Vitamin D – Not many foods are naturally rich in Vitamin D, and the foods that are aren’t very common in the typical modern diet. These foods include salmon, fish liver oil, organ meat such as beef liver, and egg yolks. Other foods have been artificially fortified with Vitamin D, but the two primary Vitamin D-fortified foods are milk and breakfast cereal, which contain dairy and gluten, and cause their own whole set of health problems
- Fat Malabsorption – Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning your gut has to be able to absorb dietary fat in order to absorb Vitamin D. If you have a leaky gut because of inflammatory foods such as gluten, infections, or toxins, your ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins may be severely compromised.
Vitamin D acts as a kind of light switch in your body, turning on or off genes and processes that your body needs to maintain health. Active Vitamin D is sent to many different areas of your body, including your bones, intestines, colon, brain, and immune cells, which all have Vitamin D receptors. The active Vitamin D binds with these receptors and promotes Vitamin D responsive genes, essentially turning them on.
Autoimmune diseases arise when your immune system is confused or overly stressed and begins attacking your own tissues instead of outside pathogens. Vitamin D prevents this by promoting regulatory T cells, which are responsible for accurately differentiating between outside invaders and “self” cells. When active Vitamin D promotes them, it essentially makes your immune system smarter, teaching it to not attack itself and preventing the development of an autoimmune disease.
Studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency with Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Type I Diabetes.
Your vitamin D3 levels should be around 75-100 ng/mL and can be tested by our office. If your levels are below the recommended range, we recommend taking 5,000 daily IU of a high-quality Vitamin D3/K2 supplement for adults and 2,000-4,000 daily IU for children. We carry both drops and capsules in our office.
It’s important to take a Vitamin D3 supplement that also contains Vitamin K2 (like the ones above), or to get Vitamin K through your multivitamin, because they work together in tandem. Your body uses Vitamin D to absorb calcium, but it needs Vitamin K to ensure that the calcium ends up in your bones, instead of in your arteries. You also want to make sure you have sufficient levels of Vitamin E and Vitamin A, (which you can get from your multivitamin) because they work synergistically with Vitamin D as well.
If you are supplementing with Vitamin D3, we recommend that you get your blood levels checked every 3 to 6 months.
The widespread deficiency of Vitamin D is concerning because it plays an important role in many areas of our health. It contributes to bone strength, heart health, and cancer prevention. And, it plays a very important role in your immune system and can be a determining factor in whether or not you develop an autoimmune disease. That’s why it’s one of the four essential natural supplements we recommend for everyone to take.