We are now deep into the winter season so I will continue to write about cold and flu prevention. Hopefully you are already taking some preventative measures.
I know that you are hearing a lot about the H1NI flu vaccine in the news and have concerns about whether or not to immunize your family. You will have to make that decision according to the best available information. What I’m not seeing in the news is how to stay strong and healthy. I have some recommendations based upon years of experience and some recent vitamin deficiency studies on Vitamin A & D. For example, at a Wisconsin care facility where 275 children live, they had been tested for Vitamin D deficiencies and were supplemented with Vitamin D. They were exposed to the H1N1 flu in June 2009 when a new resident, who was ill with the H1N1 virus, moved into the facility. Only 1 child came down with the H1N1 flu. However over 70 staff members who were not tested and had no supplemental Vitamin D came down with flu symptoms. People who have become ill with H1N1 and been tested afterwards have shown a clear lack of Vitamins A & D. Why does having Vitamin A&D deficiency make you more susceptible to getting the H1N1 flu? Mainly, these vitamins have been proven to boost immunity.
If you have not been tested for Vitamin D levels then I want to tell you why it is one of the most important vitamins in the prevention of colds and flu.
Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” because it is made in the body only when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Many people do not get nearly enough sun exposure and if they do they have covered the skin with sun block or clothing which prevents Vitamin D from forming. We have always known that Vitamin D is the escort of Calcium into the bones but in the last decade many more uses for Vitamin D have been discovered.
Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system. It can prevent colds and flu. Think about when we are getting colds and flu and it’s during the darkest months of the year. Since the 1940’s milk has been fortified with Vitamin D which was the first vitamin to be manufactured in a lab and added to our food supply. Vitamin D2 was formulated at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and it was very cheep to produce. The problem with D2 is it does not convert well to activated Vitamin D in the body and at high doses it can be toxic. The RDA recommended daily allowance was set at 400IUs which turns out to be extremely low. Now we are finding that due to our lack of Vitamin D and the inferior quality of the fortified foods, Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions.
Three ways to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D
1. First of all get your blood tested for Vitamin D. I can order an inexpensive test for you. Ask me about this at your next appointment or e-mail me.
2. Choose foods that contain Vitamin D. They are the foods with fat. Low fat foods will not provide Vitamin D. The food highest in Vitamin D is Cod Liver Oil. Other sources are deep water fatty fish like salmon, oysters, organ meats, egg yolk and butter. Fortified foods include dairy products and cereal grains but the amounts added can be erratic and if the form is Vitamin D2 it is not easily assimilated in the body. Also these fortified products need to be eaten with fat so nonfat milk is not going to help Vitamin D levels.
3. Take a supplement to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D. Like I mentioned first get your blood tested so I can help you determine your level of deficiency. Then I can help you supplement accordingly.
In order to get enough Vitamin A, the easiest way to do this is by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. Cod Liver Oil is also a source of Vitamin A. It is important to not to get too much vitamin A in supplement form as it can be toxic so eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies is the safest way to get Vitamin A in your diet.
In addition to consuming more Vitamin A and D think about what daily habits may be contributing factors in compromising your resistance to colds and flu:
o Do you get enough rest or are you trying to get by on 6 hours of sleep or less?
o Are you eating regularly or are you snacking throughout the day?
o Is your digestion working properly?
o Do you get regular exercise each week?
All the above factors sound very simple but they do take a personal plan and some effort to take care of ones self. I can help you by designing a personal plan to enhance your immune system to help you deal with the cold and flu season. Give me a call or discuss this with me during your next appointment.