How Does Vitamin D Reduce Inflammation
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with many functions in the body. Specifically, it promotes calcium absorption, helps with bone growth, modulates cell growth, plays a role in the immune system, and reduces inflammation.
But how exactly does it help reduce inflammation in the body?
In this article, I will cover:
- The basics of inflammation and immune response
- The issues that come from an inappropriate immune response
- Vitamin D’s role as an immune modulator
Let’s dive in.
First: Understanding the Basics of Inflammation
Before we can dive into vitamin D’s role in reducing inflammation, we must first understand what is inflammation?
Overall, inflammation is the immune system’s response to a stimulus that is viewed as foreign or toxic to your body. We call that inflammation-causing stimulus an antigen.
Your immune system’s job is to attack that antigen, dismantle it, neutralize it, and get rid of it in the body.
In the process of dealing with this foreign threat, the body is going to create inflammation. And that inflammation serves a purpose: it mobilizes the body’s defenses, the white blood cells.
It’s very similar to the TV series Game of Thrones, where they had to defend the wall, and that inflammation is a super important part of your body’s natural defense system.
What Cells Are Involved In A Immune Response?
In your body, you have an army of cells that are constantly defending against foreign attacks. This army deploys some incredibly sophisticated strategies and complexities within your immune system. Specifically, you have:
- Cells like B-lymphocytes that act as advanced guards to protect certain tissues
- Neutrophils, which are like kamikaze pilots that will drop certain chemical bombs to kill invading microbes
- Macrophages, which basically gobble up invaders
- T-lymphocytes, which track down and destroy the invaders. They use certain chemicals here to get their job done. For example, they might use hydrogen peroxide and other oxidizing agents.
- Now, a fever is used as another mechanism to literally cook these microbes.
- With inflammation, we also get a blood rush to the area that can bring all of these immune cells to the area so they can do their job.
But What About Injury-Related Inflammation?
Now, with an inflammatory condition after an injury, things are slightly different.
Your body isn’t trying to kill anything off. Instead, it’s trying to prevent motion in a joint, for example. If this is the case, your body will produce pain signals to tell you don’t move, let this area heal.
At the same time, there are all sorts of reparative actions coming in there with collagen and scar tissue to help mobilize and basically repair the tissue.
The Problem: An Inappropriate Immune Response
With inflammation, you often either have an overreaction or an underreaction depending on what’s going on.
Now, some of the biggest weapons that your immune system has are inflammatory chemicals like cytokines, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes. These chemicals are communication messengers that help signal and trigger the white blood cell army.
They can tell the immune system, specifically, what types of cells should be triggered and how many should be triggered.
This is a very important part because if these chemicals miscalculate and trigger too much of an immune response, then you can create too much collateral damage. That’s exactly what happens in autoimmune conditions. You have your own immune system attacking itself and destroying the entire body.
This is usually accompanied by another effect called vascular dilation. This is an increase in swelling, redness, and blood flow in the area.
In short, inflammation has a purpose, but the problem is if there’s too much firing (or not enough) and the collateral damage that inappropriate response may cause.
Now, let’s get to vitamin D and its role here.
Vitamin D is an immune modulator. A modulator is something that modifies or controls something. So vitamin D either turns up or turns down your body’s cytokines, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes (similarly to how Aspirin will inhibit and turn down prostaglandins).
Unlike Aspirin, though, vitamin D has no side effects. So whether you have inflammation from an injury, an immune reaction that has become chronic, or an autoimmune condition, vitamin D can be one of the best things to take.
How Much Vitamin D Will Work?
As far as how much to take, I would take a minimum of 20,000 IUs. If you’re in the chronic phase, you might want to go up to 30,000, 40,000 maybe even 50,000 IUs.
You also have to make sure that you take vitamin K2 with it as well.
Now, take a look at how many people in the U.S. alone have autoimmune conditions like arthritis, asthma, allergies, or fibromyalgia. It’s a ton of people, and these people aren’t taking vitamin D. If they were, chances are they wouldn’t even have many of their symptoms.
It’s just completely unnecessary for them to suffer from pain and inflammation because vitamin D is so powerful and readily available.
Summary: Take Vitamin D For Inflammation
If you have inflammation or pain - or you know someone that has inflammation that’s gone on too long - I recommend at least 20,000 IUs of vitamin D. It would be good to take it with food or with a little bit of fat because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that the fat will help you absorb the vitamin a lot better.
Finally, the last thing I want to say is that the majority of the population is deficient in vitamin D. We don’t get outside, so we don’t get it from the sun as much anymore, and it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from your food. So even if you feel OK, vitamin D supplementation is certainly something to consider.
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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.