Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because we naturally manufacture this nutrient when exposed to the sun. In a report published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology last week, scientists explored the connection between between vitamin D and viral illnesses like influenza and the common cold. These illnesses occur more often in winter, at the same time that we have less sunshine and lower vitamin D levels.
The Immunity Connection
Researchers observed that as people got older, their vitamin D levels drop. Vitamin D insufficency then causes an immune factor called TLR7 to fall. When you get a virus, TLR7 shouts out to your whole immune system that you have a viral infection and everyone had better gear up to fight the bug. When you lack TLR7, this message gets bungled and the battle for viral immunity suffers.
Although vitamin D levels do drop as people age, everyone’s level tends to fall as winter drags on. Researchers concluded that a lack of vitamin D may drive a wintertime surge in colds and flus, because of deficient TLR7 levels.
The sun is a great way to get vitamin D, but supplements can also be a good option, particularly for those who don’t get enough mid day sun, or as people age.
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