People who are Vitamin D deficient are absent from work due to more cases of the flu. One study, which claims to disprove the efficacy of Vitamin D as fighting flu symptoms, compared a group of people with normal Vitamin D levels to a group that took a Vitamin D supplement – but since the efficacy of Vitamin D at warding off flu symptoms stems from the fact that most of us are Vitamin D deficient, this study can’t claim to disprove Vitamin D’s flu-fighting power.
How does Vitamin D work to fight flu symptoms?
Vitamin D is critical to cell repair and function, and that includes your cell’s ability to produce macrophages to ingest flu-causing bacteria. Your body produces Vitamin D naturally through sun exposure on the skin. If you spend most of your time indoors or don’t get much sunlight during the wintertime flu season, getting enough Vitamin D should be a concern for you.
Can Vitamin D cure the flu?
The bad news is, once you have the flu, there’s no magical way to cure it right away. You can, however, fight flu symptoms and Vitamin D deficiency by taking 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D through a supplement daily.
How do I know if I’m getting enough Vitamin D?
Unless your skin is exposed in sunlight for 4+ hours each day, your body is not able to synthesize enough Vitamin D on its own. Exposed skin is referred to as trunk exposure, and is defined as not wearing clothing from the waist up; something that does not happen often in our society and especially not in the colder climates. Considering this, it makes sense that 75% of teenagers and adults are Vitamin D deficient, you very likely are not getting enough Vitamin D on your own.
I take a multi-vitamin, so I’m getting enough Vitamin D, right?
If you’re taking a multivitamin, you probably aren’t getting enough Vitamin D either. Most multivitamins and Vitamin D supplements contain 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D. Just to maintain the body’s normal Vitamin D levels, it needs to synthesize 4,000 IUs of Vitamin D (which it very likely can’t unless you live in the Canary Islands and spend most of your waking hours outdoors, absorbing sunlight through your skin).
How much Vitamin D should I take?
This is why I recommend to my patients that they take 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily. Slowly, but surely, others are catching on to Vitamin D as a wonder supplement as well – The American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommendation of Vitamin D intake for children, even though they’re still off the mark, recommending only 400 IUs per day. For children, 1000 IUs per 25 pounds of weight is the recommended dosage.
The impact of Vitamin D deficiency might extend beyond just flu symptoms as well. Researchers are investigating the link between Vitamin D deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D also plays a critical role in tooth and gum health. Since Vitamin D is readily available in most supermarkets and the risk of Vitamin D deficiency is as high as it is, this one’s a no-brainer: Take a Vitamin D supplement daily.
Mark Burhenne DDS