How To Strengthen Your Immune System
How To Strengthen Your Immune System
You can get vitamin D from sun exposure or from your diet. This article will focus on the vitamin D you get from sun exposure. The reason why I am emphasizing healthy sun exposure in this article is that the Canadian winter months are now upon us, and a lot of people are underexposed to sunlight during these months.
People in northern latitudes (level 40) have a higher risk of cancer compared to those who live at the equator. Seasonal flu is also more common in northern locations, and there is a general consensus that sunlight increases your levels of vitamin D, which reduces your risk of contracting this disease during flu season . If you live in a northern latitude, and you want to strengthen your immune system during the winter months, you should make sure that you get enough natural sunlight for at least 15 minutes every day.
But there is an upper limit to how much vitamin D you can get from sun exposure. In this article, I will share some tips with you on how to get more vitamin D from sun exposure without going over your maximum safe limit.
Your body has a set point for vitamin D production. You cannot just increase its production by increasing your sunlight intake (although it works the other way around – if you have low vitamin D levels, your body increases its production when exposed to sunlight). You actually have to expose yourself to a high amount of sunlight in order to get more vitamin D.
So, for example, let's say that your maximum limit of vitamin D production is set at 50 mcg/day. You must expose yourself to more than 50 mcg of sunlight every day in order for your body to increase its production of vitamin D above that set point. But if you expose yourself to just 10 mcg of sunlight every day, you will not get any additional benefit because your body has already reached its maximum limit for this given time period.
To Increase your Immune System You should follow the given points-
You can tell how much vitamin D you are getting by measuring the levels in your blood or saliva. In Canada, you can just have your doctor order a blood test to measure your vitamin D levels, but most people would prefer to use a simple device like the Vitamin D3 Meter. This device gives you an estimate of your vitamin D level in the morning, and then again an hour after you have exposed your skin to sunlight. You place the Vitamin D3 Meter on top of your arm for 20 minutes before going outside to sunbathe (if you are in a Northern latitude).
And if that is not enough for you, there are other ways to measure your vitamin D level. You can get a fingerprick blood test or order a saliva test from a lab. A saliva test gives you an estimate of your vitamin D level in the morning, and then again in the afternoon.
But as I said, you will get more benefits from sun exposure if you expose yourself to more than 50 mcg of sunlight every day. The easiest way to increase your sun exposure is by going outside without a hat and without sunscreen for up to 30 minutes every day. If you feel comfortable doing this for 20 minutes every day, then that would be fine too!
By increasing your sunlight intake like this, you are simply shifting your body's production over into the range where it naturally happens.
The first thing you will want to do is get your Vitamin D3 level checked. You want to make sure that you are at a healthy baseline level for vitamin D, and then start increasing your sunlight exposure by 30 minutes each day.
Some people start off by exposing their skin for 10 minutes every day. In this case, you want to increase your sunlight exposure, even more, each day because your body is not getting any benefit from the initial 10-minute sun exposure.
You can expect to feel better if you spend 30 minutes in the sunshine every day. This represents a significant improvement for most people after just a few days. Some people will end up spending over an hour in the sun every day, and this is a great step forward.
When you are exposed to sunlight, it triggers your body's production of vitamin D3. You must keep exposing yourself to enough sunlight to cause this reaction for the body to continue increasing its production of vitamin D. So, if you stop exposing yourself for a day or two, your levels will start to drop.
You can tell when it is time for another 30 minute sun exposure by: feeling tired after the exposure (when you get back inside), and having blisters where you exposed yourself (when you get back inside). You should go outside again after about 1-2 hours if these symptoms appear again.
If your Vitamin D3 levels start decreasing, then you can stop exposing yourself to sunlight. But if you are taking a supplement that raises your vitamin D output, then you probably shouldn't stop taking it.
If you want to get a level of 100 mcg/day of vitamin D from sun exposure, then it is best to take a supplement that contains 5 000 IU (international units) of vitamin D3 per day or more. You can also find various brands online.
For example, I take a brand called Fish Oil Omega-3 with Extra Strength 500 IU per day . It contains 500 IU of omega-3 fatty acids and this is enough to keep my levels at the right range for me.
If you are getting a lot of sun exposure, then you should not be taking a vitamin D supplement (or a cod liver oil) because your levels will be fine. But if you are not getting much sun exposure, then it is absolutely essential to take the supplement.
Your body has the ability to store a certain amount of vitamin D in your fat cells in case you need it later on. This helps protect against any deficiency symptoms that may appear when you don't expose yourself to the sun for some reason.
This storage ability is very useful because your body won't start using up its reserves if you suddenly stop exposing yourself to sunlight as much for a few days.
When you start taking a vitamin D supplement, your body will start using some of the extra storage capacity that it has and you will want to replenish your stores again by exposing yourself to sunlight.
You can do this at any time because your body still has the ability to store a certain amount of vitamin D in its fat cells.
When you take a supplement that contains Vitamin D3, you can take extra sun exposure if needed. I will normally take 2-3 100 IU tablets per week, but when I feel like my levels are starting to drop, then I go out into the sunshine one more time for about 30 minutes each day. This helps a lot.
If your Vitamin D3 levels are above 100 mcg/day, then you do not need to increase your sun exposure. I have found that, after taking a lot of sun exposure, it has taken me about 2 weeks for my levels to stabilize at the maximum level again.
If you take a supplement and feel like you don't need to go out in the sun anymore, then try exposing yourself more often and then continue with what works best for you.
How can I figure out my own vitamin D3 levels?
There are various places online where you can get vitamin D3 measured from your blood sample. You have to ask for a blood sample, but it is totally worth it.
My test results showed 150 mcg/L, which is pretty low for someone who lives in the UK.
I ended up taking a daily supplement of 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day (and drinking lots of water) and after about 4 months of that I had my levels back to normal.
I don't do this anymore, like 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 for me has been enough to keep my levels sufficiently high and the sun exposure is better for me.
I have heard vitamin D3 can be found in some fish oils - if that is true then I would suggest taking 200-1000 IU per day (which is only a few drops in the above picture) until you can figure out your own dosage.
Should I get tested for Vitamin D3 levels?
It's my personal preference to not take any tests (there are some tests available online or from doctors in the USA and UK, but they can be quite expensive). But I will say that there is no harm in doing it.
I personally take a little over 1,000 UI of Vitamin D3 daily, and have recently (last summer) been tested for 25-OH-D, which is the main Vitamin D compound found in our bodies. The doctor I saw suggested that I was likely low on this level as well.
I would recommend taking 2000-5000 IUs per day depending on where you live and how much sun you get each day.
The main concern with Vitamin D3 supplementation is that it can cause hypercalcemia (excessive calcium in the blood), and you should monitor your calcium levels closely if you choose to supplement with D3.
A supplement is probably less of a concern then if you were to get tested for levels, but I will say that it is still not a bad idea to do it.
Some people are discussing levels of up to 400 mcg/L. In my opinion, this is too high, and you should be taking 100-200 IU per day.
I have read a few stories online where people have taken 5 000 IUs per day with no negative side effects, but I am not sure if the same could be said for 5 000 IU of D3. A 500 mcg/L level would be more than enough - even at the upper end of recommended ranges for most people (which are likely much lower than the 400 macro-level).