“D” can help to avoid a cold
The typical American gets two colds a year, and those who are deficient in “D” often times get three or four colds.
In the largest study yet of the association between vitamin D and respiratory infections, people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu. The risks were even higher for those with chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma.
Vitamin C has been used for the prevention of colds for decades, but little scientific evidence supports its effectiveness. In contrast, evidence has accumulated that vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system.
The wintertime deficiency of vitamin D, which the body produces in response to sunlight, has been implicated in the seasonal increase in colds and flu, and previous small studies have suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections.
The newest study analyzed blood levels of vitamin D from almost 19,000 adult and adolescents, selected to be representative of the overall U.S. population.
Government Recommendations for Vitamin D Levels May Soon Change
The most recent recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which are 12 years old, recommend only 200-600 IU’s of vitamin D per day. But it’s important to realize that these recommendations were based on the vitamin D’s impact on bone health, not immunity, cancer protection, or overall health.
Fortunately, due to the recent landslide of excellent vitamin D studies, the IOM is expected to review and revise their recommendation in May 2010. That’s still a ways out though, and I strongly suggest you don’t wait until then to take another look at your vitamin D status.
Likewise, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently doubled its recommended dose of vitamin D for children. Unfortunately this is still a woefully inadequate recommendation as some researchers think the dose should be TEN times larger. Rather than going from 200 to 400 units per day, it should have increased to about 2,000 units per day.
And for adults, the appropriate dose would likely be closer to 4,000-5,000 units per day, but it could be even higher. In fact, according to Dr. Heaney, your body requires 4,000 IU’s daily just to maintain its current vitamin D level. So in order to actually raise your levels, you’d have to increase either your exposure to sunshine, or supplement with oral vitamin D3 (which we do not recommend without having your levels tested first).
One thing is clear. By maintaining optimal vitamin D levels, you will help prevent not only colds and flu, but all manner of disease, and maintain good health.
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