Vitamin D for flu protection
June 9, 2009
Contrary to what some people think, the swine flu is not going away. The World Health Organization today reports 73 countries with 25,288 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 139 deaths. 13,217 of those cases are in the U.S. Estimates are that only one fifth of all cases are ever reported.
Other than frequent hand washing and staying away from large crowds, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
Eat a healthy, whole foods diet. That means staying away from processed foods and refined sugar. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately. An processed foods offer little in the way of nutrition.
Get enough rest. If your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu and harder to heal itself if yo do come down with a bug.
Get plenty of vitamin D. Nine out of ten adults are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D provides potent protection against colds, flu and even pneumonia. A recent study by the University of Colorado Denver School of medicine showed that as the amount of vitamin D circulating in blood climbs, risk of upper respiratory tract infections falls.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin. But it isn’t really a vitamin at all. It’s actually a hormone that our bodies manufacture when sunshine hits our skin and converts cholesterol into Vitamin D. When we stay out of the sun, cover up from head to toe, don’t see the sun in the winter, or slather our skin with SPF we don’t make enough Vitamin D. That’s why there so many people are deficient. It’s also why people who live farther north of the equator have more illnesses than those who live closer to it.
How do you get more Vitamin D? Natural sunlight is best. Exposing your hands and face to sunlight for 10-15 minutes three times a week should be sufficient.
Vitamin D supplements are also widely available and not expensive. The Institute of Medicine, a group that uses scientific research to formulate public health policies, currently recommends an Adequate Intake, or AI, rather than a specific daily amount of vitamin D. The AI for vitamin D is 200 International Units for adults under age 50, 400 IU for those 51 to 70, and 600 IU for those age 71 and above. As new studies continue to showcase vitamin D’s potential benefits, more scientists are calling for increased recommendations. Some suggest as much as 10,000 IU –currently the tolerable upper intake daily.
And finally, there are some foods that contain Vitamin D but for the most part they’re scarce. Seafood options top the list — cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel and tuna.