When the fall and winter season comes around, doctors, pharmacies, magazines, and TV ads promote the idea that everyone should get an annual flu shot. What they don’t inform us about is that the vaccine may not protect you and keep you safe against the current circulating flu strain. In other words, many flu vaccines are do not work against this year’s strain.
Of course, if you do not like getting vaccines, then you may be unsure of what to do to defend yourself against the icky virus. Well, old wives tales have been telling us for years to drink plenty of water, eat chicken soup, and keep sleeping until you can’t stand it anymore.
These remedies may help out when you’re already sick, but they’re not necessarily going to do anything to prevent it. Thankfully, there’s a “new” superstar nutrient out there that has researchers excited! And no, it isn’t the favorite darling of the supplement world – vitamin C is old news.
It’s only in recent years that researchers have begun to look at how vitamin D helps boost our immune system. It’s known as the sunshine vitamin because the sun actually gives it to us for free, but its healing benefits are way more valuable than that.
There’s a lot of science-y stuff behind it, but basically our skin has the super cool ability to synthesize vitamin D once it’s been exposed to sunlight. But without those beautiful rays, our vitamin D levels drop. You might not be all that surprised to hear that colds and flu reach their peak during the winter months, at the exact same time our exposure to sunlight is at its minimum.
The common cold is the most widespread respiratory infection out there, and if more people include vitamin D in their their daily supplement routine, then less people will get sick.
Professor Adrian Martineau, from the Queen Mary University of London, seems to agree. According to the Independent, after analyzing data from over 11,000 people, Professor Martineau concluded:
“Assuming a UK population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year.”
Some doctors feel that most people are severely deficient in this powerhouse nutrient, and don’t even know it. So, the next time you go in for a checkup, ask your doctor to run a blood test so you can see where your levels are at. Or, you can just do it the super easy way and pop a pill every morning.
Several other studies have also explored the effects of vitamin D in preventing the colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Over 100,000 people were involved in these studies, and according to PubMed Health:
“Their analysis suggests daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation was useful in preventing respiratory tract infections. Perhaps unsurprisingly, supplementation was particularly beneficial for people who had very low levels of vitamin D.”
You shouldn’t rely solely on vitamin D fortified foods like milk to maximize your levels, as it’s probably not enough. If you’re really intent on not catching the cold or flu this season, then keep your medicine cabinet fully stocked with this new fall favorite!
During the summer months, you can get the real deal by exposing your bare skin to direct sunlight – preferably while vacationing on the beach.