This important vitamin is one that most Americans are deficient in, but getting enough can help you stay healthy this winter…
Winter is here, and along with a viral pandemic, we also have cold and flu viruses to contend with. The good news is, there are many things we can do to build a stronger immune system and protect ourselves and our families from illness. If you want to stay healthy this winter, one of the best things you can do is make sure your body is getting enough vitamins and other nutrients that support your natural immune system functions.
A couple of great examples include vitamin C and vitamin D – both of which are essential for a healthy immune system, as they help the body to fight off pathogenic invaders. Vitamin D is especially helpful, and many people don’t get nearly enough of this important nutrient in their everyday diet. Here is some interesting information from The Grow Network on why vitamin D may help you stay healthy this winter:
Ever wonder why people tend to get sick in winter? There are a lot of theories, including that we spend more time indoors and close to others. Another reason is that the flu virus can live longer outside of a “host” in the colder, dryer winter air.
But there’s another reason I believe also completes this puzzle of why the flu only seems to come out in winter: Vitamin D deficiency makes us more susceptible to viral attack (along with zinc deficiency, too).
The vitamin D theory of the winter illnesses holds some water as evidenced by research from the National Institutes of Health, and perhaps most forcefully in a 2009 study published in JAMA. And it is now widely accepted that, regardless of the reason, sufficient levels of vitamin D help people fight acute respiratory infections, including those associated with colds and the flu.
So how can you get more vitamin D? As most of us don’t eat enough foods that are high enough in vitamin D to provide all that our bodies need in the winter (organ meats, caviar, oysters, sardines, etc.), you’ll likely need to supplement your diet. However, determining how much you need can be tricky and will depend on your individual blood levels of the vitamin. It’s best to get a vitamin D serum test to determine whether you are deficient, or just need to take enough to maintain a healthy level. You can request a vitamin D test from your doctor (usually covered by insurance), or buy a home test kit online.
Once you’ve determined your levels, here are a few tips:
The Best Ways to Increase Your Vitamin D
- SUMMER: Exposing your skin to direct sunlight (not through windows). The rule of thumb is 15–20 minutes of sunlight on 70% of your body between about noon–4 p.m. or when your shadow is shorter than you are.
- WINTER: If you live above about the 35th Parallel (Washington, DC is at the 38th), you are probably not making any Vitamin D between October and March no matter how much sun you get.
- Cod liver oil (I only recommend Carlson and Green Pasture—avoid most others).
- Wild seafood, especially fatty fish, caviar, and oysters…
- Eat mushrooms that have been grown or dried in sunlight.
- Vitamin D-3 supplements (consume with a food that contains fat to improve absorption)
Lastly, here are a couple of important things to keep in mind about supplementation:
It’s important to know that vitamin D is a family of similar hormones. When you take a pill form of vitamin D, you are often getting just one isolated form. No supplement will ever fully replace the value of getting your vitamin D from direct exposure to the sun and from vitamin D-rich foods.
The fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K2) are fascinating, and they work synergistically together. It’s another reason I recommend getting your vitamin D from food because vitamin D greatly increases your need for vitamin A (retinol) and K2…