By Dr. Timothy Gerhart

Staying well requires a strong, balanced immune system combined with reducing exposure to pathogens. Vitamin D is critical to each step of our immune response.

There are 4 stages to viral infection.

Stage 1 is exposure to a virus. Our skin and mucous membranes (lining of our mouth, throat, sinuses, gut and lungs) along with antimicrobial peptides (think natural antibiotics) form a barrier like a strong castle wall to repel viral invaders. This protects us from getting infected in the first place — viruses just bounce off our protective wall. Vitamin D is critical for each part of this state 1 defense.

Stage 2 is replication of a virus in our cells as a viral invader hijacks our internal cell machinery to make copies of itself. This requires Nf-kB (a cell nucleus signaling molecule) activation. Vitamin D, at adequate levels, blocks excessive Nf-kB signaling molecule activation to both reduce excessive inflammation and block viral replication.

Stage 3 is activation of our immune “Swat Team” to attack and easily kill viral invaders. Our immune T-cells easily defeat viruses when working properly. Vitamin D is critical to our T-cell response.

Stage 4 is managing inflammation and cell energy. Some inflammation is useful to destroy viral invaders. Too much can result in a deadly cytokine storm (think fire tornado) that destroys our lungs (and other body parts) and kills us. Vitamin D has a critical role in regulating inflammation and protecting against cytokine storms.

Our immune system needs energy to work well. This is supplied by our mitochondria (energy factories in our cells). Serious infections, inflammation and trauma can lead to a major shutdown of our mitochondria leading to serious fatigue that may never go away without help. Vitamin D protects against this.

Sound like Vitamin D might be important? How do we know if we are getting enough? We strongly recommend a blood test called 25-OH Vitamin D3 from LabCorp. Also get a serum calcium blood test at the same time. Target is a Vitamin D3 level of 60-80ng/ml with a serum calcium of 9.7-9.9.

The serum calcium helps us elevate Vitamin D Receptor function since Vitamin D requires a healthy VDR receptor to work properly.

Dr. Timothy Gerhart, D.C., D.A. B. C. I., Dipl Ac., B.C.N. is founder and director of Renovare Wellness of Design Clinic in Peoria. Visit

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