It happens every year…. The leaves change color, everything is flavored with Pumpkin Spice and the news stations are pushing everyone to get the flu vaccine in preparation for “the worst flu season ever!” While many don’t have a problem with vaccines, many aren’t entirely comfortable with their ingredients and would rather take their chances. This season the flu virus is one of the toughest strains yet and doctors are saying that even the vaccine is only proving to have 20% effectiveness. Does this mean that we’re doomed to get the flu and that there’s no hope? Not exactly…
Ongoing studies have been showing that a major cause of influenza is a lack of Vitamin D in many of its victims. Time Magazine has reported on this subject as well and was able to get some facts based on numerous clinical trials.
“… People who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …
For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say.”
Researchers believe that Vitamin D increases antimicrobial peptides in your lungs thus boosting your respiratory system against infection. This would make sense considering that influenza infection seems to skyrocket when the days are shorter and colder, which causes people to be indoors more often preventing us from absorbing Vitamin D from the sun.
Boost Your Chances To Beat The Bug
Now that we’ve discovered what contributes to the flu’s ability to overtake so many victims, everyone is asking the question “What can we do to prevent Vitamin D deficiency in our bodies?”
As with many things, a healthy diet is a great start. It’s fact that high-sugar diets substantially reduce your body’s ability to fight off infections of all kinds by weakening your immune system. Ideally exposure to natural sunlight is a great way to build it up, but again given the time and temps we’re dealing with at this time of year, it’s an unlikely solution. A diet that includes plenty of fatty fish can help boost your Vitamin D levels in addition to eggs and fortified cereals.
The quickest and easiest way is to take a Vitamin D supplement. A daily Vitamin D intake of 1000-4000 International Units (IU) should be enough to ensure optimal blood levels in most people, with 4000 IU being the safe upper limit according to the Institute of Medicine. We suggest consulting a health professional to ensure you’re taking the proper dosage.
In addition to boosting your Vitamin D levels, we also suggest these measures to prevent being bitten by the flu bug.
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- If sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting others
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24-hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and be sure to discard it after use.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This is how germs spread
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.