Vitamin D Immune System Benefits: How Does It Help? †

Vitamin D Immune System Benefits

Quick Health Scoop

  • Known as “the sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D can be produced in the body when it’s exposed to the sun.
  • Vitamin D plays a vital role in supporting your immune health.

When you think of vitamins for your immune system, you might immediately think of Vitamin C—a well-known immune support nutrient. But don’t overlook the power of Vitamin D to help support your overall health and wellbeing. While you might think of Vitamin D as the nutrient that supports strong bones (which it does), this essential nutrient also plays a big role in maintaining healthy immune system functioning. But what is vitamin D and where can you find it? More importantly, how does vitamin D help your immune system? Read on to discover how you can put “the sunshine vitamin” to work for you.

What Is Vitamin D And How Can You Get It?

As a fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin D consists of a family of nutrients that include vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. Well known for its ability to maintain strong bones, vitamin D does this by helping the body absorb calcium. But vitamin D also helps with a variety of other health functions. It helps muscle health and transporting nerve messages between the brain and other body parts. Plus, vitamin D supports immune health.1

How can you get vitamin D? Your body can produce some of it. When your skin is exposed to the sun, your body converts sunlight into the active form of vitamin D. However,  it’s important to limit time spent in the sun and wear sunscreen (which inhibits the body’s ability to convert vitamin D) to protect your skin. As a result, you might not get adequate amounts of vitamin D each day.1 

While you can obtain vitamin D through your diet, only a few foods naturally contain it, including:2

  • Fatty fish (think salmon, tuna, mackerel)
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolk
  • Mushrooms (if grown under UV lights)

However, some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including milk, some breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt, cheese and soy beverages.

How Does Vitamin D Support Immune Health? †

Vitamin D receptors are located in almost all immune system cells, where vitamin D supports the immune response and is involved in immune cell function.3  

How Does Vitamin D Compare With Vitamin C?

While vitamin C provides many health benefits, it’s best known for supporting a healthy immune system. Vitamin C also delivers powerful antioxidant properties that helps support the immune system.7

Together, both vitamin C and vitamin D help support a healthy immune system, with each offering different but complementary immune system benefits.

Learn More: Vitamin C Immune System Benefits

The Bottom Line

Vitamin D supports immune health, playing an important role in keeping it healthy. If you’re not sure whether you’re getting enough vitamin D, talk with your health care provider about taking a vitamin D supplement to fill the nutrient gap.

 

This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References:

1 National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” March 24, 2020. Accessed on: October 1, 2020. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

2 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “What Is Vitamin D?” January 18, 2019. Accessed on: October 2, 2020. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/what-is-vitamin-d

3 Journal of Investigative Medicine. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” August 1, 2012. Accessed on: October 1, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

4 Healthline. “Can Vitamin D Lower Your Risk of COVID-19?” July 31, 2020. Accessed on: October 2, 2020, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-coronavirus#effect-on-immune-health

5 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health. Vitamin D.” 2020. Accessed on: October 1, 2020. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

6 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.” May 2010. Accessed on: October 1, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20219962/

7 Healthline. “7 Impressive Ways Vitamin C Benefits Your Body.” 2020. Accessed on: August 27, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-benefits