Vitamin D is well known for its importance in bone health, but it’s also vital for proper immune functioning. Vitamin D receptors are expressed on immune cells, meaning that they help the body prevent and fight infection.
While it’s a critical part of protective immunity, many people are deficient in this nutrient. Luckily, you can boost your intake of vitamin D in a variety of ways.
1. Get Some Sun
Getting enough sunlight is the best way to boost your vitamin D levels naturally. However, most people don’t get enough rays. To increase your nutrient intake naturally, spend a few minutes outdoors every day.
Not only does vitamin D improve immune functioning, but it’s also a fantastic mood booster, alleviating symptoms of those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Sit on the back porch, hang out in the sunroom, or go for a short walk to get out in the natural light.
2. Eat Wild-Caught Fish
There are two types of vitamin D — D2 and D3. However, they only differ chemically in their side-chain structure, and both are beneficial to health. The flesh of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks, are all excellent sources of D3. If you want to bulk up on D2, add some mushrooms to your diet.
While farmed fish contains decent levels of this nutrient, wild-caught is especially rich. The next time you head to the grocery store, be sure to read the label to see where the food came from.
3. Look for Fortified Foods
While naturally occurring vitamin D is preferable, many foods come fortified with this nutrient, including milk, orange juice, and many types of cereals. Swiss cheese and yogurt may also boost your immunity.
Keep in mind that some fortified options contain added ingredients that make them less healthy, such as sugar and hydrogenated fats.
4. Consider a Supplement
Because many people don’t absorb adequate levels of vitamin D from the sun or their diet, you may want to consider a supplement. Most experts recommend around 600 international units (IUs) of the nutrient per day, though you may need more depending on your needs. For example, older adults, people with limited exposure to the sun, and breastfeeding mothers may need more vitamin D.
The majority of supplements offer around 2,000 IUs per pill. Talk to your doctor before adding a supplement to your regime, and they can recommend your ideal dosage.
Get a Boost from the Sun
Vitamin D is a great way to boost your immune system, especially in regions with less sun exposure. There are several ways to incorporate more of this nutrient into your diet, from including new foods to taking a supplement.
Adding vitamin D to your preventative health routine comes with a ton of advantages, including improved immune function. By spending more time outdoors — even if just for a few minutes — eating a balance rich in this nutrient and taking a daily supplement, you can reap the benefits all year round.