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The importance of vitamin D for immune function
September 4th, 2020 + The Naturopathic Co.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (D1, D2, D3) which is produced by the body when it’s exposed to sunlight, or obtained through certain foods and supplements. We need about 15-30 minutes of direct sunlight to exposed skin every day in order to keep adequate levels, and many of us are not getting those amounts.

In addition to vitamin D’s important role in calcium absorption and bone homeostasis, we now know that Vitamin D has a crucial role in our immune function, modulating both the innate and adaptive immune responses. This critical inter-relationship between vitamin D and our immune system highlights the importance of this “sunshine vitamin” for our immune protection.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of chronic health disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases.

Deficiency in vitamin D is also linked to increased risk of autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. Vitamin D levels fluctuate over the year, with levels lowest in winter – this association is now known to contribute to increased risk of infections each winter.

In fact, there have been multiple cross-sectional studies associating lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection. One study showed a daily therapeutic dose of vitamin D administration resulted in a statistically significant (42%) decrease in the incidence of influenza infection.

Some potential signs and symptoms of vitamin d deficiency are:


Getting sick often

Bone or muscle pain

Mood disorders

Hair loss

Your vitamin D levels can be checked by performing a simple blood test. If unsure of your levels, it could be a good idea to have them checked if you have not done so in a while. In the meantime, ensure you allow yourself at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight to skin every day. You should also try to consume some foods that provide vitamin D such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel) fish oils, cheese, and eggs.

Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone. Book here. 

Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886
Cannell JJ, et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006;134(6):1129–40


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