Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is different from other vitamins because our bodies can make most of what we need with exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D promotes the use of calcium and helps bones grow, it encourages immune cells to mature, bolstering the immune system and keeping infectious bacteria in check it also acts as a pro-hormone and effects hormone balance.
Researchers have found receptor sites for vitamin D on the surface of intestinal cells. This tells us that vitamin D is essential for intestinal health. We also know that vitamin D controls inflammation and autoimmune flare-ups.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that “vitamin D 'triggers and arms' the immune system”. It said that researchers believe that vitamin D plays a key role in boosting the immune system.
The study looked at human T cells in the laboratory, and found that vitamin D was part of a complex process in which T cells become 'primed' and help to fight infection. While these findings suggest that people with vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to infection or that vitamin D supplements might boost immunity, such theories need to be tested further before drawing any firm conclusions.
It is important to have enough vitamin D to maintain a healthy body. Vitamin D forms in our skin in response to sunlight. However, care should be taken to avoid burning or over-exposure. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as oily fish, eggs, some breakfast cereals and vitamin supplements.
During the autumn/ winter months we have less hours of daylight, and in many places, much less sunshine: hence, it can be more challenging to keep up our vitamin D levels.
Even on those cold, grey days, it is so beneficial to get outside, take in some fresh air and absorb some ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D). it is thought that in the UK sunlight may not contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make enough vitamin D. During these months it's important that we are also getting vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.
Why not try the following to support your daily intake of Vitamin D and therefore a healthy immune system?
- A brisk 20 minute walk everyday, as close to midday as possible
- Check out Vit D supplements- I take this one
- Adding more of the following Vitamin D rich foods to your diet:
Wild caught fish
Beef, calf liver
- Eat plenty of cruciferous greens such as:
The molecule sulforaphane that we find in cruciferous vegetables and herbs like helps the body absorb more vitamin D—improving bone mass, as well as the ability to fight infection, and inflammation.
Sulforaphane is made when cruciferous vegetables and roots release an enzyme called myrosinase. This happens when we tear, cut, or chew cruciferous plants. The activated enzyme creates sulforaphane. Broccoli and cauliflower sprouts are an especially good source of sulforaphane.
Let's do it!!!!
We have plenty of ideas to improve our bodies ability to be healthy all year round, but especially in cold and flu season!
I would love to hear your successes in adding the above to your lifestyle!
Here's to being fit, strong and healthy this autumn!
Love, Rachael x