Vitamin D and a Healthy Immune System

As we enter the third week of May and people look forward to spending more time outdoors during the summer months, it’s worth noting that getting adequate levels of vitamin D can help support a healthy immune system.  People with underlying health conditions who are more susceptible to serious complications from the novel coronavirus will want to take extra care to protect their well-being by eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and finding ways to manage stress.  

According to recent studies, there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of developing respiratory diseases.  Vitamin D is also associated with supporting a healthy immune response and has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.  During the summer months, spending 15-30 minutes outdoors at mid-day can provide the body with the vitamin D it needs to keep bones strong. People with darker skin may need to spend longer in the sun to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D. 

If spending regular time outdoors is not possible, supplementation may be advised.  Very few foods contain vitamin D at the levels, 600 IU(international units) per day, generally recommended by experts, with the exception of salmon and trout.  Fortified milk and milk substitutes, egg yolks and mushrooms exposed to sunlight also contain vitamin D.   Health Canada recommends that men and women over the age of 50 take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU but it’s important not to take more than the recommended daily allowance for your age.  Too much vitamin D can lead to other health problems including high calcium levels, bone loss, gastrointestinal issues and possibly even kidney failure. 

As always talk with your doctor before adding any medication or supplement to your regime.  And when you can, soak up some sun!  It’s not only good for the body, spending time outdoors in nature has been found to improve your emotional and psychological well-being too.