The recent COVID-19 pandemic has many people wondering what they can do to protect themselves from the disease. While basic actions like washing your hands and social distancing can go a long way, it may only take a few microscopic viral particles for you to become infected.
Throughout the last several decades, scientists have been increasingly noting the roles of Vitamin C and Vitamin D associated with the immune response. The immune response includes a massive arsenal of cells and chemicals that your body produces to fight invading diseases.
If you want to do everything you can to prevent a serious coronavirus illness, you should be taking action now to increase your vitamin C and vitamin D levels. While vitamin C is relatively easy to add to your diet through citrus fruits and some vegetables, vitamin D is much harder to get through dietary means.
Keep reading to learn what vitamin D does specifically, and how to get more of it through your diet!
Immunity and Vitamin D
First, some background on how vitamin D can influence your immune response:
Vitamin D has been found to be a modulator of your body’s immune response. In other words, vitamin D regulates how actively your body fights an infection. Too much immune response leads to fever, inflammation of respiratory tissues, and even pneumonia. People that end up in the hospital due to coronavirus infection are there in part because their body is working overtime trying to fight the viral infection. Too little immune response, and the virus will quickly destroy your respiratory tissues as it replicates.
Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency leads to an overactive immune response – creating many of the symptoms associated with a respiratory tract infection.
In order to protect yourself from your own immune system, vitamin D works by regulating the actions of immune T-cells and B-cells. Without regulation, these cells often become over-expressed and begin attacking your tissues and proteins that are not related to the actual infective agent – such as coronavirus.
Specifically, scientists have this to say about vitamin D and the immune response in respiratory diseases:
“Vitamin D deficient individuals also report more frequent respiratory tract infections perhaps due to less production of cathelicidin and/or increased production of chemokines leading to uncontrolled inflammatory response.”
Luckily, scientists have also found that vitamin D supplementation through the diet is an effective means of increasing levels of vitamin D within your blood. In turn, this helps modulate your immune response so that it more actively targets actual viral particles and decreases your chance of a severe respiratory infection.
Mushrooms and Vitamin D
Mushrooms contain some of the highest levels of vitamin D in nature, specifically wild-grown mushrooms and cultivated mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light!
In fact, one cup of white button mushrooms that have been UV-exposed can give you nearly 50% of your daily vitamin D. You can also get a significant amount of vitamin D by sitting in the sun!
If you want to enhance your immune response to coronaviruses and many other pathogens, read our article on how to get more vitamin D through your diet using mushrooms. It covers the best types of mushrooms for vitamin D, as well as some other ways you can increase your vitamin D levels!