Vitamin D may help boost the immune system, according to new research from Boston University School of Medicine.
The study, published online in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, found raising levels of vitamin D in the blood markedly impacts genes linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
Michael F. Holick, M.D., a Boston University professor of medicine, noted previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for many of these diseases, but the new research goes goes a step further and provide direct evidence that boosting the “sunshine vitamin” plays a big role in improving immunity and lowering the risk for many conditions.
"This study reveals the molecular fingerprints that help explain the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D," said Dr. Holick, a leading vitamin D expert. "While a larger study is necessary to confirm our observations, the data demonstrates that improving vitamin D status can have a dramatic effect on gene expression in our immune cells and may help explain the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk for [cardiovascular disease], cancer and other diseases."
For the study, Holick and colleagues evaluated the health benefits of giving vitamin D supplements to eight healthy men and women, who were vitamin deficient at the start of the trial. The results showed the supplements lead to health-boosting changes in the activity of 291 genes linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and heart conditions.
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