Secrets of the Sunshine Vitamin
Mainstream medicine has failed to recognize and report our current epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Recent studies indicate that up to 87 percent of adults may be deficient.

Several studies have shown that infants, children, and adults are at increased risk for influenza and other serious lower respiratory infections when their vitamin D levels decline. A recent 2009 study found that risk was 36 percent greater for healthy people with vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml.

Influenza is seasonal, peaking during winter months of decreased relative sunlight in both northern and southern hemispheres. Since vitamin D requires sunlight for activation in the skin, scientists have long suspected a connection between vitamin D and the wintertime increase in colds and flu.

As soon as flu and cold viruses invade our bodies, the immune system releases virus-killing compounds called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Our lungs and bronchial passages are especially rich in AMP-producing cells. These cells require vitamin D to function effectively.

Vitamin D also balances inflammatory cytokine release. Cytokines are chemicals that are in part responsible for the fever and congestion associated with colds and flu. A hyper-reactive immune response, called "cytokine storm," has been linked to several fatal cases of influenza. Vitamin D not only enhances our ability to produce AMP molecules, but the "sunshine vitamin" also simultaneously balances the cytokine response that causes most of the misery during a bout of influenza.

For more information on vitamin D, as well as your individual nutritional requirements to maintain a healthy and strong immune system, please visit www.lef.org.