By David Saunders | UPDATED: 14:42, 04 December 2019
Nutrition plays a critical role when it comes to staying healthy all-year-round and vitamin C, garlic and spices such as ginger have long been hailed natural immunity boosters, but what you may not know is that vitamin D is the unsung hero we all need to keep those winter colds at bay.
As Christmas approaches and our diaries fill-up with parties, after-work drinks and family gatherings, many of us begin the search for a remedy to support overall wellbeing. So, to help in our mission to maintain optimal health, medical doctor and nutritionist, Dr Michelle Braude, explains below why we need to add a daily dose of vitamin D to our routine.
This time of year is the peak of cold and flu season, and colds spread like wildfire. Many experts agree that one of the reasons for this is that we now spend more time indoors and being in closer proximity to people makes it easier for germs to spread.
There is also evidence to suggest that being cold makes our immune system less able to fight infection, so it’s incredibly important that we boost our immunity during the cold winter months.
Susceptibility to infection and illness is the primary symptom of a poor immune system and a person with weakened immunity is at an increased risk of experiencing more severe infections, which are harder to treat. Some other signs to look out for include; fatigue, digestive difficulties and joint pain.
It has long been known that the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D, helps to protect our bones, but it’s now becoming well-recognised as an essential vitamin for our immune system too.
An analysis carried out at Queen Mary University London, found that vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu – especially amongst people who don’t get enough vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, or from their diets. Studies have also found that the vitamin is crucial for our immunity to fight off coughs, colds and flu, once we are already infected.
Vitamin D deficiency is most prevalent during the peak of cold and flu season and there is clear evidence to support the use of supplementation which can help to reduce both the incidence and severity of cold and flu symptoms.
A recent research review claims that vitamin D is more effective than the flu vaccine. The evidence, which spans at least a decade, found that for those with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 nmol/L), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
Additionally, people who took a daily or weekly vitamin D supplement, were less likely to report acute respiratory infections like influenza or the common cold than those who did not.
If you succumb to winter bugs regularly, my advice would be to eat a colourful, varied diet filled with fresh whole-food ingredients, instead of highly processed packaged foods.
I’d also advise supplementing with vitamin D all year as it’s important for immune health, as well as so many other aspects of health and wellbeing, and deficiency can occur in the summer time too.
A healthy nutrient filled diet, combined with a good vitamin D supplement, can go a long way in helping the entire family stay well all-year-round, and for those that struggle taking tablets, or suffer from pill fatigue, a vitamin D oral spray is proven to be just as effective.