The report, published in Future Microbiology, says vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is a worldwide public health problem in both developed and developing nations and nearly 1 billion people are deficient.
Adrian Gombart, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, says a string of recent discoveries about the multiple health benefits of vitamin D has renewed interest in this multipurpose nutrient, increased awareness of the huge numbers of people who are deficient in it, spurred research and even led to an appreciation of it as "nature's antibiotic."
"This is a critical issue as we learn more about the many roles it may play in fighting infection, balancing your immune response, helping to address autoimmune problems, and even preventing heart disease," Gombart says in a statement.
Oregon State University scientists found vitamin D induces cathelicidin, an anti-microbial peptide gene that helps serve as the first line of defense in the immune response against minor wounds, cuts, and both bacterial and viral infections.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]