Vitamin D has been long known to protect our bones. But, the latest research studies have revealed that the role of vitamin D is not limited to strengthening our bones.
It may also support the functions of your immune system and protect you against common infections such as cold and flu.
This is why; it is essential to ensure your body receives an adequate supply of vitamin D in combination with other nutrients like vitamins A and K in order to stay healthy.
Here is a brief about how vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of flu and colds.
How does vitamin D protect you against common respiratory infections?
Regulates the immune system
Research studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation may boost your immune system by regulating the functions of the antimicrobial peptides in the body.
These antimicrobial peptides are produced in the body naturally and play a vital role in destroying invading microbes such as Influenza A and B viruses. Antimicrobial peptides reside in the immune cells of all tissues of the body, including the cells that line the respiratory tract.
Vitamin D, by activating these peptides, can directly fight off viruses entering the respiratory passages and prevent the development of flu.
Supports white cell functions
Vitamin D is revered for its ability to promote the functions of fighter cells called white cells in the body. And this property of vitamin D is rather unique.
Not many people know that white cells have Vitamin D receptors and certain activating enzymes on their surfaces.
The excessive activities of white cells called T lymphocytes can trigger the development of autoimmune disorders. At the same time, the weak or inefficient functioning of these cells can prevent your immune system from fighting the flu viruses.
This is where the dual role of vitamin D holds prominence. Research studies have shown that vitamin D can keep the activities of the white cells in check just like a gymnast balancing himself on a beam.
It can activate the white cells in the presence of infective pathogens like Influenza viruses and thus, trigger strong defense mechanisms to prevent the development of flu symptoms.
At the same time, it would control the activities of the white cells to prevent the risk of autoimmune disorders.
This marks the importance of ensuring your body receives an adequate level of vitamin D.
Deficiency of vitamin D
Research studies have revealed that the risk of recurrent respiratory infections is higher in patients having a deficiency of vitamin D.
The lack of vitamin D can deprive the body of the immunoregulating benefits of this nutrient making you prone to develop recurrent respiratory infections like cold and flu.
Find out how to spot the signs of a Vitamin D deficiency HERE
Scientific research has shown that vitamin D can help to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
It would help to reduce mucus secretions in the throat, and thus, relieve cough, congestion in the nose and chest, and breathing difficulties caused due to flu or cold.
The concept of a seasonal drop
The importance of using vitamin D supplements can be understood more clearly through the concept of a seasonal drop.
Research studies have shown that the seasonality of influenza correlates with the seasonal drop in the levels of vitamin D.
Interestingly, the level of vitamin D tends to reduce in adults and children during the wintertime. This can be attributed to the lack of exposure to the sunshine, which is the best natural source of this nutrient.
The drop in vitamin D levels during winter, when correlated to the rise in the incidence of flu and cold during this season, suggests why taking vitamin D supplements is essential. It would prevent the deficiency of this nutrient during winter and reduce your risk of seasonal flu.
The role of vitamin A and K in the prevention of flu and cold
Vitamin A and K are vital nutrients that can enhance the benefits of vitamin D by producing immunity-boosting effects.
There is evidence suggesting the potential benefits of vitamin A supplementation in the prevention of Influenza. It is believed to work by activating the proliferation of B lymphocytes thereby accelerating the production of antibodies that can attack, bind to, and destroy viruses responsible for causing flu or cold.
Vitamin K has also shown great promise in the management of influenza and the common cold. Vitamin A and K would also act as anti-inflammatory agents and provide relief from cough, congestion, and nose block caused due to cold and flu.
Vitamin D supplementation offers a safe and effective way to protect yourself against seasonal flu and the common cold. Combining the use of vitamin D with other nutrients such as vitamins A and K would further boost your immunity and reduce the risk of developing respiratory infections considerably.
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