Vitamin D May Keep Cold And Flu From Taking Root

Photo credit: Horia Varlan

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.

J Leuk Biol 2012

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Research and nutritional information included is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease and should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician before initiating any new dietary or supplement program. References available by request.