Nutrition Gem: Vitamin D and the Immune Response

Are you getting enough Vitamin D? The FDA recommends that adults have 400 IU per day (International Units), though many scientists and alternative practitioners believe the minimum daily dose should be 1,000 IU per day for healthy adults. If you are like most people who avoid the sun and only occasionally eat fish, cod liver oil, eggs, or fortified milk (BAHTA recommends raw, unpasteurized milk that still contains it’s original Vit. D) your intake of Vitamin D may be insufficient.

For those of us with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, getting between 2,000 and 4,000 IU per day is most often ideal. Vit. D helps maintain adequate amounts of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. We need calcium in order for our bones to be healthy and avoid osteoporosis.

Why is Vit. D so important specifically for those of us with Hashimoto’s? Because we are immune compromised. Research shows that Vit. D has influence on the regulation of T-Helper cells, the immune systems response to viruses, bacterial infections, and unfortunately even to our own cells that have mistaken our thyroid as something to attack. With all of the Hashimoto’s clients I have seen in my office or known of, the client’s T-Helper cells are out of whack, and Vit. D helps to bring the response back to functionality.

white blood cellsOur body has two kinds of immune responses. A “first responder” immune cell is called a T-Helper 1, or TH-1 response. TH-1 is the first to attack foreign (invader) cells, or in our case, cells that are perceived as foreign. TH-1 cells engulf the foreign antigen and take it to the lymph system to be disposed of.

The TH-2 immune response comes in when the foreign cells are too great for the TH-1 response to engulf and there is a viral or bacterial infection. The TH-2 response is called the Humeral Response, and with many who have Hashimoto’s, it’s on over-drive. TH-2 cells are in it “for the long haul” so to speak and work for months or even years to eradicate infection. Since the immune system is attacking the thyroid with Hashimoto’s, our Humeral Response is very confused and cannot bring itself back into balance. When we are TH-2 dominant we can become highly reactive to our environment and the foods we consume because the TH-2 system is on over-drive and literally over-reacting to many things it comes into contact with. Vit. D is often one of the key factors in calming the response down and bringing the T-Helper cells back into balance.

Vitamin DHow do you get enough Vit. D? Get sunshine…on your skin 🙂 Just 10 to 20 minutes out in the sun between 12 and 2pm will be plenty of Vit. D, while not putting you at undue risk for skin cancer. As was stated in the last Weekly Gem, while Americans are using more and more sun protection, skin cancer rates continue to rise. Vit. D has been shown to decrease risk of skin cancer when taken in consistent moderation.

If it’s too cold to expose yourself to the elements use Cod Liver Oil in morning smoothies; or use a liquid Vit. D supplement that is palatable, like the Ultra D Complex from Apex Energetics. Vit. D easily goes rancid, so make sure to keep it in a tinted jar in the refrigerator. Make sure not to buy tablets because they have binding agents that often render the supplement useless. Canned tuna does not have the Vit. D intact, so buying fresh fish is needed to get your Vit. D.

To Your Health!