How Vitamin D Can Protect You From The Flu (or Even Worse)
The study's hypothesis was (paraphrasing): "The reason why people get the flu in the winter and don't get the flu in the summer is because of Vitamin D levels."
Since people are deficient in vitamin D in the winter (no sunlight), this leads to weakened immune systems (especially in the lungs), which opens people up for attack from the influenza (flu) virus and other respiratory infections (i.e. COVID-19).
This past week a breakthrough study was published that solidified our stance on Vitamin D: Calcifediol treatment and COVID-19-related outcomes.
Per the study's interpretation: In patients hospitalized with COVID-19, calcifediol (i.e. Vitamin D) treatment at the time of hospitalization significantly reduced ICU admission and mortality (death).
With COVID-19 still wreaking havoc on the world this is like the perfect time to dive deeper into the potential benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D and YOUR HEALTH
Bad news first...
If you don't currently live in a sunny place and get plenty of sunshine each day then the chances that you are deficient in Vitamin D are VERY HIGH.
(Note: We are NOT doctors and this is NOT medical advice, just so you know.)
Vitamin D is calculated by measuring the amount of Sereum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your blood.
In the USA, Vitamin D deficiency is classified as having less than 20 ng/mL in your blood.
When you have less than 20 ng/mL, your parathormone levels rise, which means your body starts breaking down your bones for calcium. (Not good)
When you have less than 10 ng/mL, (extreme deficiency) you develop rickets & osteomalacia, which means your bones get super soft. (Very bad)
Making sure that you're above 20 ng/mL generally means you will avoid these, but that doesn't mean you're living your best life.
Actually, if you have Vitamin D levels between 21 ng/mL - 29 ng/mL it is considered "insufficient."
What Is An Ideal Vitamin D level?
Most doctors/scientists agree that you should have levels of at least 30+ ng/mL.
This makes sense, seeing as you need to have levels at 34 ng/mL to maximize calcium absorption in your intestines.
It was noted that neuromuscular performance steadily improved as Vitamin D levels increased and maximum performance was achieved at 50 ng/mL.
The 2006 study goes on to conclude...
"If levels of 50 ng/ml are associated with further benefits, such as preventing viral respiratory infections, we are only now learning about it. Until more is known, it may be prudent to maintain wintertime 25(OH)D at concentrations achieved in nature by summertime sun exposure (50 ng/ml)."
What they are saying is that you should aim to keep your Vitamin D levels at or above 50 ng/mL YEAR ROUND.
By doing so you can help to keep your body healthy, energetic, and potentially much less likely to fall victim to the flu + other viral infections (i.e. COVID-19).
Seeing as over 1 BILLION people around the world are classified as Vitamin D insufficient, this is a HUGE health concern.
How Do You Raise Your Vitamin D levels?
Sun exposure is #1.
It's recommended you should get at least 15 - 20 minutes of sun exposure on at least 40% of your skin daily to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels.
But what if it's the middle of winter and you don't see the sun very much?
In that case, you're really only left with supplementation.
What all of this boils down to are these simple facts:
- If you don't spend at least 20 minutes a day in the sun exposing at least 40% of your skin to sunlight, then you're probably low on Vitamin D
- If you are low on Vitamin D you should be supplementing your diet with Vitamin D daily
- Most people would greatly benefit from supplementing with at least 2,000 IU (50 mcg) of Vitamin D daily
A lot of people get the flu in the winter and almost no one gets the flu in the summer.
The big difference between these seasons are that in the winter most people's vitamin D levels are low whereas in the summer their levels are high.
With COVID-19 still lingering, if doing something as simple as taking a daily vitamin D supplement may help prevent you from hospitalization, I'd say it's worth it.
Not to mention that Vitamin D is one of the most powerful and influential vitamins, directly responsible for over 200 different mechanisms around your body.
The moral of the story is this...
Get your vitamin D levels tested. If you're low, then start supplementing.
Your body will thank you for your support.