Vitamin D to the Rescue! Your Secret Weapon During the Cold & Flu Season

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Featured, Health, How-To's | Comments Off on Vitamin D to the Rescue! Your Secret Weapon During the Cold & Flu Season

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(Image: “sunflowers” by Exsodus /

We have been hearing more and more about the impressive benefits of Vitamin D intake. In particular, we are now finding out that Vitamin D can help boost your immune system to better ward off colds and flu, especially important for Canadians during the winter months.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is actually more like a precursor to steroid hormones. It is made by our skin from exposure to UV light from the sun. Decreased exposure to sunlight in the fall and winter months in Toronto means that our bodies are producing less Vitamin D naturally. There are multiple forms of Vitamin D, but the one that is best used in the body is Vitamin D3.

Recent research supports the theory that low sunlight exposure and secondary deficiencies of vitamin D underlie susceptibility to colds and influenza. It turns out that the anti-microbial cells that line the respiratory tract are dependent on Vitamin D. As a result, by acting on these immune cells, Vitamin D prevents lung infections associated with influenza.

So how to do you make sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin D?

Individual Vitamin D requirements can vary considerably so it’s best to have your Vitamin D levels tested through a simple blood test done by either your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor. The best lab test is 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D. Based on your blood testing and medical history, your Naturopathic Doctor can assess and make recommendations to meet your individual Vitamin D needs. Once you have determined your Vitamin D status, there are several options to increase your levels. These include sunshine exposure, food sources and supplementation.

Most people meet at least some of their Vitamin D needs through sunlight exposure. UV radiation penetrates the skin and is converted to Vitamin D. The amount of Vitamin D made by your body can depend on the level of cloud cover, sunscreen use, time of day and season. It has been suggested that for the average person, without an existing Vitamin D deficiency, 30 minutes, 2-3 times per week of sun exposure between 10am and 3pm leads to adequate vitamin D synthesis.

In addition to sunshine, fortified foods tend to provide most of the Vitamin D in the Canadian diet (milk and margarine are fortified by), but the best natural food sources are fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and fish liver oils. Small amounts can also be obtained from beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. In some cases, food sources and sunshine are not adequate and supplementation with Vitamin D3 may be required. There a number of good Vitamin D3 supplements available. The dose can range from 2000IU to 5000IU per day. Drop form is more convenient and slightly better absorbed than capsules or tablets.

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