To make vitamin D work better, eat this superfruit

Vitamin D offers wonderful health benefits, combating heart disease, cancer and autoimmune problems. But there’s a superfruit you should eat to make it even more powerful.

When scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University analyzed the natural substances in blueberries, they found that a compound called pterostilbene in blueberries pumps up the immune protection offered by vitamin D.

Their analysis shows that when you eat blueberries, pterostilbene may work in tandem with vitamin D to increase the action of a disease-fighting entity called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP gene) that helps the immune system fight off disease.

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The resveratrol in grapes was found to have a similar effect.

“Out of a study of hundreds of compounds, just these two popped right out,” says researcher Adrian Gombart. “Their synergy with vitamin D to increase CAMP gene expression was significant and intriguing. It’s a pretty interesting interaction.”

Scientists are also studying the CAMP gene. It plays an important role in what is called the innate immune system. This system forms the body’s first line of defense against infections caused by bacteria.

More reasons to enjoy more blueberries

Blueberry juice supports brain health and memory. In study participants between the ages of 65 and 70, researchers found that drinking two tablespoons of blueberry juice daily (the equivalent of one and a half cups of berries) improved cognition scores by 40 percent and memory scores by 30 percent.

MRI scans of those who drank the juice also had increased gray matter activity and improved blood flow to the brain!

Considering the ties between vitamin D and dementia are growing stronger, this is a win-win for this special combo.

Blueberries promote healthy blood pressure. A team of researchers from King’s College in London found that drinking 200g (almost a cup) of blueberries every day for four weeks led to decreased systolic blood pressure. In fact, drinking blueberry juice lowered blood pressure by 5mm Hg, comparable to what’s expected from using blood pressure medication. Supplementing vitamin D reduces systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure in people with both vitamin D deficiency and hypertension

Overeating? Berries can put you back in control. This may be because berries are of full fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Research shows that soluble fiber causes food to move through your digestive tract slower. This makes you feel full for longer. In fact, one study found that eating twice as much fiber can cause you to lower your calorie intake by 130 calories per day. And if you need an edge to maintain a healthy weight, keep your vitamin D levels up.

Blueberries lower blood sugar. Researchers at Louisiana State University System’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that two blueberry smoothies a day helped improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant people. The researchers credited the berries’ high content of phytochemicals, particularly anthocyanins — powerful antioxidants that give blue and purple foods their color. Vitamin D has also been found to help push back against prediabetes.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.