Benefits of Vitamin D When You Have a Cold
Low levels of vitamin D can increase the chances of contracting the common cold or the flu. Many people believe that vitamin C is the nutritional cornerstone for supporting the immune system and fighting illness, but vitamin D is just as important, if not more. Vitamin D can be consumed by getting plenty of sunlight, but during the winter months the body is more likely to be lacking in this vital nutrient. Unfortunately, this is the time when the flu and cold are most common, so a vitamin D supplement may be helpful.
Studies that have tested the effectiveness of vitamin D supplements at preventing the common cold have had conflicting results. Despite this, research has shown that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to dysfunction within the immune system, and leave the body susceptible to illness. Research, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at the vitamin D levels of nearly 19,000 people. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 40 percent more likely to contract respiratory infections.
What Factors Contribute to Vitamin D Deficiency?
There are numerous risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, and some of these include:
- Not Getting Enough Sun – Getting the skin exposed to the sun is a great way to get vitamin D, and when the skin isn’t able to absorb sunlight vitamin D levels may drop.
- Dark Skin – People with dark skin need more sunlight in order to get the same amount of vitamin D as those with lighter skin.
- No Vitamin Supplements – Getting vitamin D through diet alone can be difficult, although not impossible. Due to this, a multivitamin or vitamin D supplement can help to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
- Body Type – Pregnant women and people that are obese need more vitamin D.
What Does Vitamin D Do for the Immune System?
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in boosting the immune system’s ability to find and destroy potential illness. The immune system’s T cells directly rely on vitamin D. The T cells are in the body to fight disease causing agents, bacteria, and viruses. When T cells find these agents they immediately seek out vitamin D in the blood in order to mobilize. After getting the vitamin D, the T cells are more effectively able to fight pathogens and can better protect the body.
Vitamin D’s role within the body is very important, and the cells within the immune system. If you find yourself frequently getting sick it may be because your vitamin D levels are low. Getting out in the sun or improving vitamin D consumption through diet or supplementation may help to keep the immune system functioning at its finest.