Tags: virtamin | d | infection | fighter | viral

Vitamin D Fights Viral Infections

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:30 PM

Vitamin D supplements during fall and winter months – when levels of the “sunshine vitamin” typically decrease – may provide a potent weapon against viral infections by boosting the immune system, new research shows.
Spanish scientists, writing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, noted insufficient levels of vitamin D are linked to a deficiency in the body’s immune defenses that protect us from infections, viral conditions and autoimmune diseases. Since vitamin D levels fall during autumn and winter, some people may be more prone to viral infections.
But new research – led by the Division of Rheumatology at the Hospital Universitario in Santander, Spain – suggests vitamin D supplements, especially in older people, could boost immunity against viral infections.
"There are numerous studies showing the benefits of maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels,” said lead researcher Dr. Victor Manuel Martinez-Taboada. “As more and more research into Vitamin D is conducted, we are learning that it is extremely important for human health.
“Our study is no different, and vitamin D supplements should be considered one of many tools that might help when conventional therapies are not enough."
For the study, researchers compared changes in blood levels of vitamin D among three groups of healthy subjects: young (20-30 years old), middle (31-59), and elderly (60-86). They found older people have decreased levels of vitamin D, and immune functions, compared to the younger groups – particularly during fall and winter months.
Finally, scientists studied whether there was any difference in the three age groups depending on the season of the year since it is well known that a limited sun exposure during darker winter months is related with vitamin D deficiency.
"There have been numerous studies showing several environmental factors during winter months may allow viruses to spread easier,” said John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “This study shows that sunlight, or more precisely the lack of vitamin D, could have a role in the seasonally higher rates of infection. More extensive studies must be conducted for this link to be conclusive, but since vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and generally safe, this is a really exciting discovery."

© HealthDay

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The 'sunshine vitamin' boosts the immune system and is a potent weapon against infections.
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:30 PM
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