The Cure for Colds and Flu?

man_fluSome call it, “the sunshine vitamin.” But vitamin D might soon need a new nickname like the cold kicker  or the flu fighter. That’s because a new study suggests vitamin D might help protect against colds and the flu.

From National Public Radio (NPR):

It’s long been known that vitamin D helps protect our bones, but the question of whether taking vitamin D supplements helps guard immunity has been more controversial. An analysis published Wednesday suggests the sunshine vitamin can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu — especially among people who don’t get enough of the vitamin from diet or exposure to sunlight.

According to Time Magazine, “The researchers found that people who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not. Those who had low vitamin D levels before they started supplementation got the biggest benefit: For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 mg/dl), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.”

Researchers looked at the data of more than 11,000 people from 25 different studies to come to this conclusion. wrote:

The results of this study fit with the observation that colds and flu are commonest in winter and spring, when levels of vitamin D are at their lowest.

They may also explain why vitamin D protects against asthma attacks, which are commonly triggered by respiratory viruses.

“Our results add to the body of evidence supporting the introduction of public health measures such as food fortification to improve vitamin D status, particularly in settings where profound vitamin D deficiency is common,” the researchers said.

The Harvard Gazette quoted Carlos Camargo of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the study’s senior author, as saying, “Acute respiratory infections are responsible for millions of emergency department visits in the United States…These results could have a major impact on our health system and also support efforts to fortify foods with vitamin D, especially in populations with high levels of vitamin D deficiency.”

Besides supplements, there are several foods that can help support your vitamin D levels. They include:

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks

Share your thoughts on this new report and whether you believe vitamin D can help Arizonans battle through cold and flu season. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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