Before you rush out to get your family vaccinated against the flu this winter consider stimulating your body’s natural defences with Vitamin D supplementation.Is the reason winter tends to be the cold and flu season merely because viruses prefer cold weather? Unlikely…
As I’ll explain, Vitamin D has a stimulating effect on our immune system. So given that Vitamin D is primarily manufactured in our bodies after sun exposure; perhaps this lack of sun in winter months is a contributing factor to the increased frequency of colds and flu’s.
Way back when, we were all exposed to much more sun rays than we are in today’s lifestyle. Most of us spend the majority of daylight hours inside… especially working people and the elderly, we cover up when outdoors and we smother our children in SPF at even the slightest sign of sunny weather. It is not surprising then that a quarter of Australians tested are Vitamin D deficient and given its importance in immune function what effect may this be having on incidences of allergies, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease? For this article though, I’ll concentrate on the common cold and influenza.
Where vitamin D fits in our immune defences is in the activation of T-cells… cells which lay dormant, then, with exposure to a virus or bacteria become activated to seek out and destroy these pathogens. Additionally T-cells act as a memory bank, storing information about these viruses so that when next exposed we can respond faster to them thus preventing the virus from taking hold or speeding up recovery.
In the presence of a Vitamin D deficiency T-cells will fail to activate thus leaving us exposed to infection, and ongoing recurrent infections.
Results of a range of studies looking at Vitamin D and the immune system have shown:
· Children with Vitamin D deficiency have an increased rate of upper respiratory infections and pneumonia.
· Children supplementing with 1200IU Vitamin D per day had a 42%reduction in influenza.
· Women given 800IU Vit D/ day had a 60% reduction in colds and flu; when given 2000IU there was a 90% reduction
Given the inconsistency in reported efficacy and number of side effects related to the flu vaccine perhaps it is time to consider stimulating our bodies natural immune system to fight these battles the way nature designed us to. “Pro vaccine” advocates have even stated that vaccine efficacy would most likely be improved by co-administration of Vitamin D (this is a big admission for these guys!)
There is a study which showed no effect of Vitamin D on Immunity however this trial administered massive doses of Vitamin D once per month. This suggests that Vitamin D is best given as a daily supplement to reach and maintain optimal plasma levels.
So if you want to give yourself the best fighting chance of staying healthy this coming “flu season” get out doors now while the sun is still shining; go to your GP and ask for a blood test to determine your Vitamin D status and then if needed get into your health food store (Evelyn Faye Nutrition!) and get yourself and your family a vitamin D supplement.
I would recommend the following doses as a maintenance dose through winter, if you are deficient double this dose for 2 weeks then continue and the below amounts, come spring re asses your requirements and remember to get outdoors!!!
Children up to 5 years: 1000IU per day
5-13 years: 2000IU per day
14+: 5000IU per day