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Vitamin D: A key role in immunity

Vitamin D, contained in fish oil, a product both ancient and revolutionary
Vitamin D, contained in fish oil, a product both ancient and revolutionary

The grandmothers who regularly gave the cod liver oil to their offspring were right. Like those who now recommend eating several times a week of salmon and other fatty fish and liver of chicken: these foods are rich in vitamin D and the latter is indispensable in our body.

The work that accumulates on the vitamin proves - or sometimes only suggests the absence of compelling evidence - its benefits ranging from reducing the risk of bone fracture, prevention of several types of cancers, via prophylaxis - or even treatment - various viral and bacterial infections, and other autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular or psychiatric conditions.

The latest study has revealed the central role of this vitamin in the activation of the immune system. It comes from Danish researchers. Put simply, one can imagine that when antigen (Ag) particular viral or bacterial, is introduced into the human body it is phagocytosed by macrophages and "presented" to specialized T-cells that are dividing.

If properly activated, they will turn into two types of immune cells: the killers, capable of destroying any cells bearing foreign Ag, memory cells and to keep track of the aggressor. And the team in Copenhagen has now shown that vitamin D is essential for the initiation of all that machinery.

This finding may in practice have multiple benefits because the immune response is involved in various fields, infectious course and also autoimmune diseases, organ transplants, and various other inflammatory disorders. The Danish team has followed the events leading to activation of T-cells. That probably the fundamental basis for enabling works to develop new immunostimulating or immunosuppressive strategy. And that explains why vitamin D might be one of the "drugs" both the oldest and most revolutionary of all.


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