The Importance of Vitamin D
By: Paul Sullivan, RPh RxN, IDLife Chief Formulator
While football season recently ended, our awareness for Defense is not limited to the football field. When we speak of defense at this time of the year, keeping your Vitamin D at a sufficient level is one of the key factors to keep your immune system strong and help defend you from seasonal health challenges like sore throats, influenza, sinus problems, coughs, colds and general respiratory malaise.
Who is at Risk?
According to the CDC, those who are at greater risk for developing upper respiratory problems and influenza include:
• People over age 65
• Children, especially those under age 2
Author’s Note: Many people in these categories have been shown to have low Vitamin D levels.
What Does D have to Do with it?
Vitamin D is a critical component of our immune system and studies that show that when Vitamin D levels are lower (for example in the winter), respiratory problems and infections are more likely to occur. Many studies regarding influenza correlate people with low Vitamin D levels with an increased likelihood to catch the flu. A specific study conducted on a group of healthy adults compared those with high levels of Vitamin D to those with low levels and found those with low levels were TWICE as likely to get influenza.
Studies have demonstrated that sufficient Vitamin D3 levels are beneficial to lungs and airways to decrease infections that affect the air passages, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Also, people who did not supplement with Vitamin D had nine times greater risk of winter flu than those who took Vitamin D. This is one of the many variables that IDNutrition covers; by taking your Assessment in the winter months, with all other factors being equal, you will be recommended more Vitamin D then you will in the summer.
What Does D Do?
There are Vitamin D receptors on cells in the respiratory tract that are looking to bind with Vitamin D in a modified form that will help the body both reduce inflammation and increase antimicrobial proteins called cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are critical in the role of building our immune defense against invasive bacterial infection and destroying invading germs and viruses. This dual action of reducing inflammation and increasing cathelicidins is the double-barreled action that can help your body D-Fend itself and better fight respiratory challenges.
How much Vitamin D3 is safe?
Three years ago, a doctor I trained under, Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego and lead author of the study mentioned above, stated the blood level amount of Vitamin D associated with about half of the death rate was 30 ng/ ml. He noted that two-thirds of the U.S. population has an estimated blood vitamin D level below 30 ng/ml.
At IDLife and with IDNutrition, we recognize that Vitamin D exposure from the sun will vary by latitude (northern latitudes have less than southern latitudes) and most of us will get more exposure in the summer than in the winter. Our software recognizes that unless you live at the Equator and wear a Speedo all day, you are not getting enough Vitamin D from food or the sun. We are hoping to drive the Vitamin D3 levels mentioned above to more than 50ng/ml, and of course, advise everybody to have their blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D tested every year when they have their annual physical.
Sufficient blood levels of Vitamin D3 are critical and IDNutrition considers it a foundational nutrient in your program to help reduce the risks of immune challenges and to help defend from seasonal health challenges like sore throats, influenza, sinus problems, coughs, colds and general respiratory malaise. While there is nothing more accurate than blood testing for Vitamin D3 levels, the personalized IDNutrition Assessment takes many factors into consideration. Questions on the Assessment ask what season it is, in what part of the country you reside and how much time you spend in the sun, all to better determine your Vitamin D levels.
The IDNutrition Vitamin D plus CoFactors formula is quite advanced compared to only Vitamin D3 found in competing products. It contains magnesium to assure D3 metabolism through the liver and kidneys, and also provides Vitamin A, Zinc and the enzymes Lipase and Protease. These enzymes assure that when the activated form of Vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol) ultimately gets to those “receptors” we discussed above, they are completely prepared for binding to those cells in the immune system. This ultimate Vitamin D receptor binding will help the body both reduce inflammation and build our immune Defense against invasive upper respiratory bacterial infection and help destroy invading germs and viruses.