Vitamin D: Your Number One Way to Prevent Colds and Flu

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Colds and Flu, Immune Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

So far, this year’s flu season has been relatively mild. But as we all know, that can change almost overnight—so you need to be vigilant about keeping your immune system in shape.

One of the very best strategies for doing that is optimizing your vitamin D level.

Research shows that vitamin D helps prevent colds and flu (including H1N1 and other seasonal viruses) by boosting the production of an antimicrobial substance called cathelicidin in natural killer cells, neutrophils, and monocytes. These cells are part of your immune system and attack invading pathogens.

Of course, the easiest way to make sure you're getting adequate vitamin D is to get out in the sun. Admittedly, that’s a tough thing to do this time of year. But if you live in an area where you won’t wind up with frostbite if you venture outdoors without a coat (another problem altogether), I recommend getting at least 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure on any part of your body at least three times a week.

For everyone else, I strongly recommend that make sure vitamin D is part of your regular supplement regimen. Just follow these daily dosage guidelines:

  • 1,000 IU for children under 2 years old
  • 2,000 IU for children over 2 years old
  • 3,000 IU for individuals weighing 80–130 lbs.
  • 4,000 IU for individuals weighing 131–170 lbs.
  • 5,000 IU for individuals weighing over 170 lbs.

For additional support, you also may want to consider some of the other nutrients that help prevent colds and flu, including vitamin C and probiotics. And as always, keep following the day-to-day habits that help prevent infection.

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