A Better Way to Win the Fight Against Flu and Colds and More!
This is flu season, and it’s on everyone’s mind how to fight the bug that seems to be so rampant today. Most days at the practice I get questions about flu jabs and things.
Today I’m going to share with you something that is better than any flu jab, and with no side effects either!
Meet the humble vitamin, the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D.
This vitamin is well known for it’s role in healthy bone development and calcium metabolism. However, for the past 30 years, other roles for Vitamin D have been emerging and some recent, well-conducted studies are coming to the fore now and we now know that:
– There is a vitamin D deficiency epidemic worldwide.
– This deficiency is worse in the winter months because there’s not enough sunlight for our skin to make its own vitamin D.
– Vitamin D boosts your immune system and helps it work better.
– Vitamin D has been shown to be protective against colds and flu when taken in adequate amounts, therefore in winter months, when vitamin D levels are particularly low, colds and flu are more common.
– Vitamin D in appropriate levels, is also protective against several forms of cancer.
– Vitamin D deficiency symptoms cause, among other things, depression, joint pain, tiredness (which has often been ‘diagnosed’ as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia), muscle ache, diabetes (Vitamin D helps regulate insulin activity), osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rickets, heart disease.
– The current recommended daily allowance of 400IU/day is not enough to protect you from the major illnesses and symptoms mentioned above – it will protect you from rickets though.
– The level of Vitamin D in your blood should be in a range between 75-150nmol/l. (Get your Dr to test your level asap, to know if you need more vitamin D).
You need to make sure you are well stocked up on Vitamin D, especially in the winter months.
Those at most risk of suffering from dangerous Vitamin D deficiency are: Dark skinned people, obese people, people suffering from malabsorption syndromes eg coeliac, inflammatory bowel disease, the elderly, housebound, excess use of sunscreen, anyone who’s not getting enough dietary Vitamin D.
How To Get Enough Vitamin D:
1) Stay out in the sun (sunbathe) for 30 mins each day (this makes your body produce 20,000IU of vitamin D per day.) Clearly not practical though. However, do get as much sun as you can manage.
2) Eat loads of foods containing Vitamin D. Foods like Oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolk. Still won’t give you enough per day, but these things all add up so do this as well.
3) Take a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement (there’s a cheaper counterpart, Vitamin D2, but this form is less effective so you want to avoid it). If you decide to go this route, you’d need to take at least 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day, and depending on your blood level of Vitamin D, you may need to go as high as 5000IU/day. Don’t worry, that’s not a toxic level – studies show that your body can easily tolerate 10,000IU/L (not surprising, considering the body itself can easily make up to 20,000IU per day – a far cry from the 400IU found in many supplements today). If you decide to take a supplement (pure Vitamin D3, the active form of the vitamin), then you definitely need to do a blood test before and after to make sure you remain within the normal range of the vitamin. Ask me which one I recommend if you are interested.
Take home tips: – If you want to win the fight against flu this year, increase your vitamin D levels.
– Get your Dr to request Vitamin D levels for you. Ask for the ‘serum 25-OH Vitamin D’ blood test. Optimise your intake such that you’re well within healthy levels of Vitamin D.
– Take control of your health! Continue eating your veg and fruit (ratio of 3 veg to 2 fruit, mind you)