Vitamin D – Immune Booster???

Ever wonder why people tend to get more colds in the winter?  Well according to research coming from all over the world, the answer may be vitamin D.  Since humans need sunlight to produce natural vitamin D, and obviously winter is the time of the year we get the least amount of sunshine, it goes without saying that this is the time we are most likely to be vitamin D deficient (or at least suboptimal).

Vitamin D has long been known for its benefits relating to osteoporosis but it has been recent research that has focused on its immune benefits. Michael Zasloff of Georgetown University, Dr. John J. Cannell, Adrian F. Gombart of UCLA, dermatologist and immunologist Richard K. Gallo of UCSD, John H. White of McGill University, Mona Stahle of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and microbial immunologist Robert Modlin of UCLA, are among the many researchers that have published papers regarding the remarkable benefits of vitamin D supplementation and the human immune system. 

So how does this “wonder vitamin” work? One of the mechanisms thought to occur is the increase of the production of cathelicidin which seemingly punches holes in the external membranes of microbes thereby killing them. Also, vitamin D did more to stimulate the production of cathelicidin than any other substance. Not only was it helpful in protecting against colds, the flu and other minor infections, there is evidence that it may be highly beneficial in the treatment of tuberculosis. 

Further research into the use of topical vitamin D on skin wounds is continuing. Dr. Stahle’s research has already seen results from studies that suggest benefits.

One comment, made by Dr. Zasloff was, in my opinion, the most profound.  He states that the payoff from research into the positive effects of vitamin D “would be amazing. Imagine being able to block the spread of epidemic flu with appropriate doses of this vitamin.” Yes, imagine the value of a simple vitamin over the use of drugs.

After reading the review article in the November 11th issue of Science News (pgs 312 & 317), I am going out to the local health food store and buying extra vitamin D for the whole family.  Starting dose for the kids (four and ten) will be 400 i.u.’s and for my wife and I, 800 i.u.’s.