Health & Habits
Vitamin D3 & Your Immune System
Posted March 08, 2021
Who doesn’t want a better immune system these days? While many of us are still sheltering at home, distancing ourselves from the outside world, our immunity is one aspect of our health that remains top-of-mind. In its most basic form, the immune system is a network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection. It’s an incredibly intelligent system that records every germ it’s ever defeated, recognizes it if it enters the body again, and destroys it immediately. Without a properly functioning immune system, colds are frequent, wounds are slow to heal, and overall health declines.
There are two main parts of the immune system - the innate immune system, which we’re born with, and the adaptive immune system, which develops as the body is exposed to germs and microbes. Because the adaptive immune system is constantly learning and adapting, the body can also fight bacteria and viruses that change over time. As long as the immune system is running smoothly, it goes unnoticed. But if it stops working properly - because it’s weak or can't fight particularly aggressive germs - the floodgates open to illness.
As millions of people today line up to receive COVID vaccinations, it’s important also to understand just how the immune system reacts to such vaccines. Immunizations introduce antigens or weakened pathogens into the body in a way that doesn’t cause the individual to get sick (in most cases). Instead, the body produces antibodies, which are Y-shaped proteins tasked with identifying and neutralizing foreign objects. This intelligent system then saves copies of the antibodies to protect itself if the threat reappears later in life.
In an effort to bolster our immune systems - at a time when it’s so greatly needed - we must understand the most effective ways to do so. We all know exercising, sleeping, and reducing our stress levels are imperative. Eating the right foods are also crucial, especially those high in vitamin C. But another vitamin that doesn’t get nearly as much press in terms of immunity is vitamin D. It not only plays vital roles in improving bone health and calcium absorption, but also undoubtedly strengthens our immune system. Vitamin D deficiencies are shown to increase our susceptibility to infection, and are even associated with a greater risk of self-reported upper respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, one of the main functions of vitamin D is to help activate T cells, also known as the "killer cells" in the body. T cells actually detect and destroy foreign pathogens - like viruses. Despite all this evidence, over one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient.
To dive a bit deeper, there are two forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found in plants such as mushrooms and fortified products like cereals, soy milk and orange juice, while D3 is predominantly found in animal products like fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. D3 is the form produced by the body after exposure to sunlight, earning it the nickname the “sunshine vitamin”. Most notably, it’s been found to be twice as effective as D2 at raising vitamin D levels in the bloodstream.
Those on vegan or vegetarian diets are also more likely to consider the content of dietary supplements, especially when it comes to vitamin D intake. One way to cover our bases is supplementing with Vedge Essential, which includes (among other valuable ingredients) vitamin D3 from a unique plant species called lichens. Lichen-based D3 is free from toxins and other contaminants, and is a natural form of D3 identical to what our body produces when exposed to sunlight. This is the perfect choice for those wishing to increase their vitamin D3 intake without consuming fish oils.
Obviously, vitamin D3 is just a small piece of the puzzle when discussing robust immunity. Luckily, when we’re armed with the right knowledge, practice useful habits, and remain disciplined, our immune systems can adapt and strengthen over time. This powerful system is vital for our survival and cannot be neglected. Given these trying times, we must take the right steps - preferably outside in some sunshine - to remain sane and healthy.
Written by Brett Malaney
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