immune-system-health-and-vitamin-dWe know the South Florida sun can make you look great, but did you know it could also help you feel great?  Recent studies indicate that exposure to sunlight causes the body to produce Vitamin D, a nutrient that significantly promotes immune system health.

Comments by Dr. Ted Herrmann:

South Florida is famous for white sand beaches, turquoise waterways, world class golf courses and—you guessed it—sunshine!  However, the sun can be extremely damaging to the skin, especially during those hot summer afternoons when temperatures often climb into the upper 90s.  Recent research has found that exposure to sunlight increases the production of Vitamin D.  These studies further link the production of Vitamin D to a healthy immune system.

When it comes to a healthy immune system, high levels of Vitamin D are important for at least two reasons.  First, Vitamin D serves as a trigger, “activating” the body’s white blood cells (i).  When white blood cells come across a foreign object in the bloodstream, the cells extend receptors to search for Vitamin D.  Once found, Vitamin D activates the white blood cells and prompts them to attack the foreign object.  In this way, Vitamin D serves an important role in activating and facilitating the body’s first line of defense against infection:  white blood cells.

Vitamin D further supports a healthy immune system by aiding in the production of antibodies (ii).  After Vitamin D activates the body’s white blood cells, some of those cells immediately pursue and kill the foreign bacteria or virus, as mentioned above.  The remaining cells, however, form antibodies.  Antibodies are white blood cells that are programmed to recognize only the foreign object in the blood that caused their formation in the first place.  As more and more of these unique defender-cells form, the body is able to immediately recognize and attack the corresponding viruses and bacteria.  In this way, Vitamin D is instrumental in long term immune system health, helping white blood cells to catalog previously encountered viruses and bacteria for future identification.

While the sun may be damaging to the skin, proper exposure can promote long term health perks.  The most beneficial of those perks is increased Vitamin D production, which helps support a strong immune system.  However, precautions must be taken.  Sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 30 or greater should be applied every 20 to 35 minutes, depending on skin type.  Pay attention to the more sensitive areas of the body like the face, ears, and shoulders.  These areas tend to receive more direct sunlight than others and need more frequent sun block application.

As a holistic Miami dentist, I focus on the interconnectedness of the entire human body.  All organ systems are important– especially the skin, our largest organ.  To learn more about holistic wellness, schedule a dental appointment with Assure a Smile.  Our friendly staff is committed to providing the highest level of service and will help you understand the various factors that affect your overall oral health.

 Sources:

(i) http://www.naturalnews.com/029312_immune_system_vitamin_D.html

(ii) http://www.nature.com/ni/journal/v11/n4/full/ni.1851.html

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