The Sunshine “Vitamin”

Boosting Your Immune Health

“Friend, please pray…” was how the text started a few weeks ago. 

“My mom and dad both have covid.” My heart sank.

My friend’s parents are both over 70 and her dad is a diabetic. After feeling ill for a couple weeks, I am happy to report that they seem to be doing ok.  They are still being closely monitored and extra cautious. 

My heart goes out to so many who have lost parents and loved ones to covid.  We feel powerless under the circumstances.  So, when I see research and reports that indicate things we can do at home that might help, I’m there for it!  I encourage you to be there for it too. 

Interestingly, my friend’s parents were supplementing Vitamin D in recent years.  We cannot know for sure if that helped them during their bout with covid but it definitely seems like a great time to remind my friends, loved ones, and community about the benefits of Vitamin D. We can in no way say Vitamin D is a cure for a pandemic, but numerous studies show that it is a factor in boosting the immune system and that there does seem to be a direct link to Vitamin D deficiency and more severe covid.

Contrary to the name, vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, it is a hormone. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.

It is believed that over 40% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient.  You can get a vitamin D test at your doctor’s office or order your own from a company like Everlywell to do at home. Work with a healthcare provider if you have questions about your levels.  With flu season upon us and a global pandemic that does not have a clear end in sight, it seems prudent to stay on top of your vitamin D levels and do what you can to boost your immunity.

Fifteen to 30 minutes of direct sun exposure on areas such as the arms, legs, and torso a few days a week generally is enough to produce adequate vitamin D levels for adults.  People with fair skin can aim for the shorter end of that bracket, while the 30-minute end is often optimal for people with darker skin, as well as older adults in general. With age, skin loses some ability to synthesize vitamin D from the sun. And melanin responsible for skin’s natural pigmentation decreases the amount of vitamin D produced from UV rays within any given time.  If you want to focus on bringing more vitamin D into your diet, think eggs, fatty fish, and fortified products.  You can find a vitamin D3 supplement at your local health food store, natural grocery store, or from your doctor’s office.

Ok, that is my soapbox for this week. Friends, take extra care of your health and immune system.

Previously Published in the Hampton County Guardian Augusta Chronicle USA Today Network.

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