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Vitamin D and influenza: Myths and facts

Vitamin D and influenza are often associated, and more specifically, vitamin D and respiratory infections. The increase of vitamin D in your blood levels decrease or prevents the chance of catching the flu.

Studies also show that there is a correlation between the lack of sunlight in the winter months and influenza.

The seasonal flu affects many of us. In fact. influenza kills around 35 thousand people in the United States each year. Researchers have found that vitamin D is important for our well-being.

Vitamin D can be obtained from sun exposure. However, for many of those living in northern latitudes, where the sun is weaker in the winter months, the body is unable to synthesize a sufficient amount of vitamin D in the skin.

Vitamin D increases the antimicrobial peptides in the body, which functions include killing bacteria, fungi, viruses, and even cancerous cells. Antimicrobial peptides are vital members of the host defence system. They have the ability to kill a broad range of microbes, repair wounds, and are a major function of the innate immune system in addition to regulating the adaptive immune system.

Vitamin D works by producing defensins and cathelicidin, two proteins that fight against viruses. In addition, vitamin D also reduces inflammation, which inhibits the body temperature from increasing to amounts that would make the body susceptible to pneumonia. Studies have found that when vitamin D levels in the blood are greater than 38 ng per millilitre, that the body is more protected against influenza.

To prevent or lower your risk of influenza, vitamin D can help. If you are already ill with the flu, vitamin D can also help reduce the symptoms in addition of decreasing the chance of developing pneumonia post your influenza. Vaccines are also helpful in decreasing your chance of developing influenza. When vaccines are combined with adequate levels of vitamin D, your body is able to minimize the effects of influenza.

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