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This content is intended as general information. We encourage you to explore the full Puritan’s Pride’s® Immune Health offerings for product-specific benefits.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be obtained through the diet or synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D formed in the skin, is a potent and active form of the vitamin. Vitamin D2 is a vitamin D analog formed in plants, mushrooms and yeasts during photosynthesis. While vitamin D2 is sometimes used in food fortification, Puritan’s Pride supplements provide the active form.
Vitamin D plays a regulatory role in the growth, differentiation, and proliferation of different types of white blood cells.8* It is important to regulate these processes to maintain immune balance. Think of a thermostat set to 70 degrees.
When the temperature falls below 70 degrees the heat comes on but once the temperature is reached, the heat needs to turn off or else the temperature will continue to rise indefinitely. The same delicate balance is needed for our immune systems to maintain optimal health.
The T and B cells of the adaptive immune system are both regulated by vitamin D.* Many cells of the innate immune response also require vitamin D such as monocytes which need it to mature properly.* Adequate concentrations of vitamin D are also necessary for the synthesis of important proteins with immune-fighting properties.8*
Did you know, Vitamin D is considered a nutrient of public health concern? This is because many Americas are not getting enough vitamin D in their diets and low intakes can affect overall health.
This is partly because natural food sources of vitamin D are limited and not always appealing. They include cod liver oil, liver and some types of fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines. In the US, milk but not all dairy products, is fortified with vitamin D. It is important to check the label on products like cheese and yogurt to see if they were made with fortified milk.
However, this level was established based on the amount of vitamin D needed to maintain bone health.* Many health experts argue that higher intakes of vitamin D are necessary for overall optimal health. A daily intake of 50 mcg (2,000 IU) is frequently recommended for most healthy adults.12
As we age, the skin produces vitamin D less efficiently. Vitamin D absorption may also decrease with age, making vitamin D supplementation especially beneficial for older individuals.
When used as directed, a sunscreen graded SPF-10 will block 90% of UVB radiation reaching the skin.10 UVB radiation is needed to stimulate production of vitamin D.
Residents of northern climates may have inadequate exposure to sunlight in order to produce sufficient vitamin D, especially during the winter months.
Wearing protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves inhibits the body’s natural production
of vitamin D.
The stimulation of vitamin D production in skin can depend on the intensity of the sun’s UVB rays. When you are shorter than your shadow, UVB radiation is often not strong enough to produce vitamin D.11 Air pollution and the presence of clouds can also have a major impact on the intensity of UVB radiation that reaches the ground.
Every day, your body is bombarded by foreign substances from the outside world. Credit card pin pads, bathroom faucets, cell phones, literally everything you touch is covered in tiny microorganisms. Not all microorganisms are bad, in fact there are trillions of bacteria found in and on the human body which cause no harm, or in some cases are even beneficial to human health.
However, there are also less favorable microorganisms found in the environment. The main function of your immune system is to protect you from external threats and keep you healthy.
Think of your immune system as your body’s security team, trained to recognize and remove any threats while protecting your body’s peaceful residents.
The first line of defense is to restrict the entry of unwanted foreign materials. The skin creates an excellent physical barrier but unwanted guests may still be inhaled or ingested. The acidity of stomach acid, mucosal membranes, and the presence of antibodies in saliva and tears all further help to prevent the entry of these substances into the body.
Physical barriers keep pathogens from entering the body – e.g. skin, mucosa layer of GI tract, antibodies in saliva, pH of stomach
If substances get through the exclusion barrier, they need to be recognized as non-self
Elimination only of unwanted threats, not self or friendly bacteria
Immune memories allow for fast recognition and elimination of repeat offenders
If a non-beneficial microorganism is able to pass through your body’s first line of defense, it must be recognized by your immune system. Recognition is an important feature of your patrolling security team. Without it, your immune system would attack non-threatening foreign substances and even your own cells. Undesirable substances are recognized by white blood cells that send messages akin to sounding an alarm, drawing more white blood cells to the area. There are many different types of white blood cells, also called leukocytes, that all work together to orchestrate the appropriate immune response. The elements of the immune system discussed thus far are all considered part of the innate response.
Characterized as being fast and non-specific, the innate immune system responds within minutes or hours.1 Once the innate immune system has identified a threat, it seeks to eliminate it. The various white blood cells of the innate immune system each fight these threats in their own unique ways. Some will trigger an inflammatory response while others will deal with it directly by engulfing it or releasing toxic chemicals. Since the innate immune response is non-specific, the response is generally the same regardless of whether the same pathogen is encountered numerous times.
The body’s second line of defense is the adaptive immune response. This response takes days or even weeks to develop, but it is highly specific. Unlike the innate immune system which simply recognizes objects as good or bad, the adaptive immune system precisely identifies each foreign substance and develops a customized response. These unwanted guests are identified by the presence of antigens – which are like name tags calling out what kind of substance it is. Highly specialized white blood cells called B cells produce antibodies that fit together with the foreign substances antigens like puzzle pieces. The antibody-antigen complex signals to other immune cells that this complex needs to be destroyed.
Another type of cell of the adaptive immune system is T cells. T cells do not produce antibodies but when they recognize an antigen, some types of T cells will directly attack the foreign invader. Other types of T cells will regulate the responses of other types of immune cells. The most amazing part about the adaptive immune system is its capacity to remember the appropriate response for foreign substance through memory cells. These immune memories develop throughout your life and are readily activated when they are needed again.
Your immune system is always patrolling your body to keep you at your best, but you need to keep your immune system healthy too. Every day you need to provide your immune system with the energy and nutrients it needs to function optimally.
AGE: The immune response starts to weaken around age 60 and continues to weaken with age.2
SLEEP: Important immune proteins called cytokines are released while we sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to decreased immune function as well as increased recovery times.3
STRESS: Both physical and emotional stress can negatively impact the immune system. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to decrease white blood cell numbers.7
SMOKING: Smoking causes dysfunction of white blood cells involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.5 It is estimated that 1.1 billion people in the world are smokers.6
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Regular moderate-intensity exercise achieved on a near-daily basis is associated with better immune health with age. More than 80% of U.S. adults are not meeting guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.4
NUTRITION: The immune system needs proper nutrients to function optimally. There are a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are widely recognized for their role in supporting immune health.*
Because the immune system is such a complex system, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting immune health. The various different types of white blood cells, immune proteins, and tissues and organs all have different nutrient requirements. Taking a single nutrient for immune health may assist in supporting one of these aspects of immune health, but if you are lacking other nutrients in your diet, then you may be falling short in getting total immune support.*
The immune system works year-round to keep you healthy no matter what the season. Depending on location and lifestyle factors, vitamin D status may be higher in the summer to better support certain aspects of immune health.* Winter weather conditions such as dry air may also affect immune health. It is still important to support your immune health every day throughout the year for optimal functioning.
The immune system should not be “boosted” beyond normal, optimal functioning. In fact, many autoimmune diseases are characterized by an overactive immune system that starts attacking its own cells. There are however lifestyle changes that you can make to help support normal functioning of the immune system. These include getting adequate sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, eating a balanced diet and getting adequate amounts of immune supporting nutrients.
The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells, tissues and proteins found throughout the body. It includes the thymus, spleen, bone marrow, skin, tonsils and Peyer’s patches in the intestines. The lymph system allows white blood cells of the immune system to patrol the entire body looking for foreign invaders.
|Serving Size 1 Softgel|
|Amount Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin D 250 mcg (10,000IU) 1,250%|
|(as D3 Cholecalciferol)|
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