Fight the Flu with Vitamin D

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Supplementation
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

We’re about to enter the flu season, as we do every winter, and the latest research continues to validate the importance of a couple of points I’ve stressed on numerous occasions.

First, it’s becoming extremely obvious that the seasonal fluctuations in our vitamin D levels play a significant role in the incidence of influenza—and probably of other infectious diseases as well.

For some reason, the mainstream media continue to ignore research showing the astounding success of using vitamin D supplementation to prevent flu and colds in the first place. Instead, they have focused their reports on vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts at developing silver-bullet antiviral medications that can be produced by the hundreds of millions of doses and fed to the public.

Adequate amounts of vitamin D are essential for your innate immune system to function optimally. Typically, vitamin D levels begin to drop during the winter months as our exposure to the sun also decreases. I feel one of the best things you can do to strengthen your immune system this time of year is for you and everyone in your family to supplement with vitamin D. I’ve given specifics before, but adults should be taking roughly 4,000 to 5,000 IU a day and children 1,000 IU per every 25 pounds of body weight.

Vitamin D is what my dad would call “cheap insurance.” Ideally, our bodies would be producing adequate amounts of the vitamin through exposure to sunlight. When sunlight hits our skin, cholesterol is converted into vitamin D. Unfortunately, that’s not happening as much as it should anymore.

Over the last several decades the public has been led to believe that both exposure to sunlight and high levels of cholesterol are harmful. We’ve been told to avoid sunlight and slather on sunscreen every day before any sun exposure. The drop in vitamin D levels only worsens as we get older. We tend to become more “house-bound” and avoid sun exposure. Plus, our skin gets thinner and less efficient at converting cholesterol to vitamin D.

Now if you contract the flu, vitamin D at higher doses can be used therapeutically at a dosage of 1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for a week. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you would take 170,000 IU of vitamin D daily for a week.

Keep in mind that it can take a while to build up the body’s reserves of vitamin D. As such, I recommend that it be taken year round and not simply started at the beginning of flu season.

For extensive research on vitamin D and the role it plays in influenza epidemics, you can go the Vitamin D Council’s Web site at www.vitamindcouncil.org.

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