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Vitamin D: It's a linchpin to your immune system

Vitamin D is crucial to activating your immune systems and a shortage of the vitamin may mean that T cells, the heat seeking missiles that attack infections, can't react to fend off serious infections, according to research from the University of Copenhagen.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Vitamin D is crucial to activating your immune system and a shortage of the vitamin may mean that T cells, the heat seeking missiles that attack infections, can't react to fend off serious infections, according to research from the University of Copenhagen.

The findings, released Sunday, found that T cells, need to be triggered into action. Vitamin D acts as that trigger. Without Vitamin D, these T cells remain dormant.

Here's the problem though. People generally get Vitamin D via sun exposure. However, humans are spending more times indoors and failing to get enough Vitamin D. Most Vitamin D is produced as a natural byproduct of the skin's exposure to sunlight. It can also be found in fish liver oil, eggs and fatty fish and supplements.

The University of Copenhagen's Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology found:

  • The first stage of T cell activation involves Vitamin D;
  • When the T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen it has a biochemical reaction and extends an antenna known as the Vitamin D receptor;
  • Without Vitamin D, the T-cell ceases.

Add it up and the T cells can't mobilize if they don't find enough Vitamin D in the blood.

With this knowledge, researchers at the University of Copenhagen hope that they can better fight epidemics with new vaccines that can train immune systems.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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