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

Jan 11, 2021 Immune SystemVitamin D 2 MIN

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 support 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-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 including muscle health. 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.

Learn More: The Best Healthy Foods List

How Does Vitamin D Support Immune Health?

Vitamin D receptors are located in almost all immune system cells, where vitamin D is involved in immune cell function. Vitamin D also plays a role in both the adaptive and innate immune responses. Your innate immune system is the one you are born with, while your adaptive immune system develops as you age and can change over time. Both have a complex system of cells, tissues and organs that work together to help mount an immune response. Vitamin D’s key roles are coordinating the activities of the immune system and balancing the immune response.[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 help support the immune system.[5]

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. 

† 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.


  1. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” March 24, 2020. Accessed on: October 1, 2020.
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “What Is Vitamin D?” January 18, 2019. Accessed on: October 2, 2020.
  3. Journal of Investigative Medicine. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” August 1, 2012. Accessed on: October 1, 2020.
  4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health. Vitamin D.” 2020. Accessed on: October 1, 2020.
  5. Healthline. “7 Impressive Ways Vitamin C Benefits Your Body.” 2020. Accessed on: August 27, 2020.


Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at

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