News Alert: Vitamin D and Immune Health*

If you want to understand how important vitamin D is to immune health, consider two facts. First, there are vitamin D receptors on almost every immune cell in the body.[1] Second, there are no less than 15 human genes involved in the action of vitamin D on the immune system.[2] Not surprisingly, there’s been a flurry of interest in vitamin D’s role in supporting respiratory health over the past year.*

Vit D and immunity

A study published last June in the scientific journal Medicine in Drug Discoveries found a correlation between where Americans live and their respiratory health status. Specifically, the study found the further south you live, the better respiratory outcome you have after an immune challenge.* The researchers speculated that people living in climates where it’s easier to absorb vitamin D from sunlight were better protected than those who didn’t see the sun as much.*[3]


Another recent study, published last September in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, studied the sunshine vitamin’s effect on cytokines. These immune system proteins normally help contain an immune challenge. But sometimes, they can overreact, making the immune system go a bit haywire. This study concluded vitamin D may help regulate cytokine production, benefitting respiratory health.*[4]


These findings reinforce previous research. A 2020 study on 191,000 individuals by leading vitamin D researcher Dr. Michael Holick found that being deficient in vitamin D increased the risk of falling under the weather by 54.5 percent.*[5]


Interestingly, many experts consider 30–39.9 ng/mL within the normal range for vitamin D. Typically, 20 ng/mL is the cutoff for deficiency. (By that measurement, 42 percent of Americans are deficient.[6]) Some even argue that number should be lowered to 12.5 ng/mL. However, the Endocrine Society recommended in 2011 maintaining between 40–60 ng/mL to ensure sufficiency.[7]


To achieve those levels, you’d likely have to consume more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 10–800 mcg (400–800 IU) for vitamin D. In a recent article published in the journal Nutrients, the authors recommended 50 mcg (2,000 IU) of vitamin D daily.*[8]




[1] Martens P. Nutrients. 2020 May;12(5):1248.

[2] Koivisto O, Hanel A, Carlberg C. Nutrients. 2020 Apr;12(4):1140.

[3] Marik PE, Kory P, Varon J. Med Drug Discov. 2020 Jun;6:100041.

[4] Daneshkah A, et al. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020;32(10):2141-58.

[5] Kaufman HW, et al. PLOS One. 2020 Sep 17;15(9):e0239252.

[6] Wheeler S. 42% Percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Are you among them? Cleveland Clinic, Mercy Hospital. 2018 July 1.

[7] Tello M. Vitamin D: What’s the “right” level? Harvard Health Publishing. 2020 Apr 16.,for%20both%20children%20and%20adults.%E2%80%9D

[8] Calder PC, et al. Nutrients. 2020 Apr;12(4):1181.