3 health benefits of vitamin D

In recent years, vitamin D has emerged as a wonder vitamin. While it has been known to help us absorb calcium, vitamin D has also lowered deaths caused by breast, colon and prostate cancer and has helped ward off depression.

 

Best Health has been keeping up on new findings, and there’s more good news:

1. Protection for the immune system

More and more research points to vitamin D as an effective way to protect the immune system.

A study in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology from May 2012 found that insufficient levels of vitamin D are related to a deficiency in the body’s immune responses. It’s possible that an increased intake of vitamin D could strengthen the body’s immune response against viral infections.

The study’s authors say this may explain why cold and flu rates are higher in fall and winter, since D levels decrease at that time of year.

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2. Reduce the risk of respiratory infection

A study published in the September 2012 issue of Pediatrics supports the possibility a daily vitamin D supplement may reduce the risk of respiratory infections in winter. For the study, 247 Mongolian schoolchildren (who are known to be at high risk for vitamin D deficiency, especially in winter) were given supplements of 300 IU daily. Risk of acute respiratory infections was halved.

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3. Faster recovery from illness

Research published in the September 2012 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that vitamin D supplementation could improve recovery rates for patients with an infectious disease such as tuberculosis.

“Patients who had vitamin D on top of antibiotics cleared the TB bacteria from their lungs 13 days more quickly than those who just had standard treatment alone,” lead researcher Adrian Martineau told Best Health.

The results suggest vitamin D helps dampen the body’s inflammatory response to infection and could even, Martineau speculates, enhance recovery from pneumonia.

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  AUTHOR
Holly Konig

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