Dr. Ayşegül Çoruhlu
Vitamin D and Formation of immune antibodies in the immune system:
Vitamin D is an immune modulator. In other words, it helps maintain the balance. We do not desire the immune system to function excessively or insufficiently; we desire that it functions in balance. This defines its modulating function. If we want a good immune defense, vitamin D comes at the top of the list. Immune modulators better than Vitamin D are the sun and sleep.
First of all, let’s define the immune “defense”:
The fight of the immune system against a pathogen has two phases. (Pathogen means harmful organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi). Let us explain these 2 phases of immune defense in simple terms:
1- Innate immunity: We call it natural immunity; we call it natural since it has always been there.
2- Adaptive immunity: We call it acquired immunity; that is, immunity acquired later. It starts to function later.
Innate is the natural immune strength. It is congenital. It is the first defense against all pathogens. It can kill the pathogen, but it cannot keep it in its memory.
Adaptive immunity gets involved in order to develop an immune memory, that is, “memory” against the pathogen.
Let’s see the function of the adaptive immunity: I will explain this with a simple thread.
Adaptive immunity is constructed by the T and B lymphocytes.
Firstly, T lymphocytes start to function. These T lymphocytes vary in type. Our current topic is Helper T Cells, which are the helpers of the T lymphocytes. Helper T Cells are divided into two types:
Th1 and Th2.
The most important difference between these two is that
while Th1 is active in killing the virus,
Th2 activates the B lymphocytes for memory antibodies against the virus.
Now, comes the part played by the Bs.
First of all, IgM, one of the B lymphocytes, comes into play. You are familiar with them from your blood tests. The presence of IgM indicates that you have a defense against the disease; however, you have not yet become permanently immune. IgMs have a short life span. Permanent memory is formed with IgG. When you are told that you have antibodies or immunity against something, it means that there is an IgG antibody against that thing.
The aim of vaccination is to form these antibodies. As I explained above, the immune war, which starts with natural immunity and later involves T lymphocytes, is long and exhausting. Bs are immediately activated with a smoother transition through vaccine, requesting the IgG antibodies. This is the purpose of the vaccine.
Let’s talk about Vitamin D.
Vitamin D strengthens the innate or natural part of the immune system. In other word, it strengthens the initial phase of killing the virus. The fight of innate immunity against the viruses is very important. The fight of innate immunity with all types of pathogens is important. However, the continuation of the fight extends to the adaptive immunity since this path must be followed in order to form antibodies.
Vitamin D allows this phase as well. However, there is a slight difference:
While it allows antibodies called IgM that are first formed through adoptive immunity and begin to heal the disease, it suppresses the formation of the IgG antibodies.
The information I will present here now has been rarely studied in the medical literature:
The IgGs, which are formed after fights against all pathogens, keep the defense against that pathogen prepared; however, this has a negative consequence. When the amount of IgG against pathogens is too high in the blood, this is the cause of future autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D decreases the possibility to go towards IgG. It functions to get the job done from the very beginning. Therefore, it has a role in preventing autoimmune diseases as well as in viral defense.
Since the aim of vaccine is to reach high levels of IgG, the high level of vitamin D in the first 1-2 weeks of vaccination when the antibodies are formed reduces the amount of IgG to be produced by the vaccine. If the aim is to achieve high levels of antibody, it would be appropriate not to take supplements during this period.
This is a usual information you may find in the textbooks. However, no such study has been conducted on COVID and COVID vaccine. Less dosages of Vitamin D used to be recommended before COVID; however, much higher dosages were added to daily use, as the importance of Vitamin D was understood regarding protection from the disease. In other words, a study on vaccines and antibodies will only be a consideration thereafter.
Vitamin D has greater immune modulator effects within the immune system. However, this part is important in terms of vaccine. Because; everyone has been striving to produce IgG antibodies.
Therefore, I would like to finalize by mentioning my hope that this textbook information will be the subject of a study in this period when the entire world is being vaccinated.