Concerned about getting the flu this winter? Find out what vitamin supplement could help in the battle to fight off flu viruses.
Some people are reluctant to get the flu vaccination – either the seasonal or the H1N1 flu virus vaccine. Some avoid it because they’re allergic to vaccines and others because they fear vaccine related side effects. For those who choose not be vaccinated, it’s important to take additional precautions to protect against the flu – particularly for people at high risk of flu complications. Simple measures like regular hand washing and eating a healthy diet are important measures everyone should take; but there’s also a common, inexpensive vitamin supplement that has the potential for flu protection – one that’s stolen the spotlight recently – vitamin D.
Vitamin D for Flu Protection?
Vitamin D, aptly dubbed “the sunshine vitamin”, because the sun is the best source, is already being studied as a natural form of flu protection. The Public Health Agency in Canada is conducting research to see if vitamin D offers protection against the H1N1 flu virus and whether higher levels of vitamin D can protect a person against swine flu complications.
Can Vitamin D Protect Against the Flu?: A Study
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that looked at 19,000 young adults found that those with low vitamin D levels were forty percent more likely to develop a cold or flu-like illness. For people with asthma or other lung problems, the risk of illness was up to five times greater for those with low vitamin D levels. Trials are being conducted now to see just how effective vitamin D could be for flu protection. So convinced of the ability of vitamin D to protect against the flu, some physicians are already urging patients to ramp up their vitamin D intake.
Why Would Vitamin D Protect Against the Flu?
It should come as no surprise that vitamin D might offer flu protection. It’s been shown to have significant immune modulating effects – meaning it can stimulate the immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria without over-stimulating it to the point that it leads to autoimmune disease. Plus, vitamin D can potentially be used not only for flu protection, but also for defense against other viral and bacterial diseases. Another positive – unlike the swine flu vaccine, there’s not shortage of it.
The Problem of Vitamin D Deficiency
The bad news about using vitamin D to protect against the flu is that most people aren’t getting enough of it. More than three-quarters of people who have their vitamin D levels tested are deficient. Before flu season hits full force, it’s smart to have a vitamin D level checked, particularly if you don’t plan on getting a flu vaccine. If vitamin D levels are low, it’s important to start supplements before winter approaches and sunlight exposure is reduced even more. The bottom line? Get a vitamin D level checked and make sure you’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. Chances are – you’re not.