Vitamin D is not only a powerful immune stimulant, but it appears to be “smart” in how it tempers the body’s inflammatory response—a mechanism that is believed to be responsible for many influenza deaths as the inflammation cells destroy lung tissue. Autopsies performed on victims of the 1918 flu pandemic illustrate this phenomenon. “It was as if the flu victims had been attacked and killed by their own immune systems,” says Dr. Cannell, “This is the severe inflammatory reaction that vitamin D has recently been found to prevent.”
Researchers at McGill University, along with two independent groups at UCLA, found that activated vitamin D dramatically “up-regulates” immune cell activity in response to microbes, while it suppresses activity of interferon, which causes inflammation. In other words, vitamin D seems to stimulate anti-microbial activity while suppressing mechanisms that cause inflammation.
Protect Yourself with Vitamin D
To protect yourself this flu season, the CDC recommends people up to 50 years old get 200 IU per day, people 51-70 get 400 IU per day, and people over 70 get 600 IU per day. The quantities taken by the study participants mentioned in this article are much higher than these recommended doses; if you would like to increase your dose above these recommendations, consult with your health care practitioner.