Study shows vitamin D helps boost immune system

March 11, 2010 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Study shows vitamin D helps boost immune system
Scientists have long understood the importance of vitamin D to promote healthy bones. But new researcher findings from the University of Copenhagen, published in the journal Nature Immunology, have shown that the vitamin also plays a significant role in activating the body's immune defenses.

The researchers found that immune systems' killer cells, known as T cells, rely on vitamin D to become active, and remain dormant and unaware of the possibility of threat from an infection or pathogen if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.

Scientists have known for a long time that vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, and that there is a link between levels of the vitamin and diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.  But these latest findings are the first of their kind to show that vitamin D is capable of activating the immune system.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is naturally produced in the skin when exposed to UV rays.  It's also available from some foods, including liver, egg yolk and fortified milk.

These findings are especially important as more and more studies show that many people are vitamin D deficient.  Here in Canada, our long dark winters and Northern latitude mean many people are at risk of deficiency. 

For this reason, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends all adults consider taking a 1000 IU vitamin D supplement during the winter months, and people who are over 50, have dark skinned, spend little time outdoors or wear clothes that cover most of their bodies consider taking a supplement year round.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.