Beat the Winter Blues with this Flu-Fighting Vitamin

It’s flu season!

Touch no one.
Wash your hands regularly.
Get your flu shot.

We hear these recommendations almost daily during the winter months. What if there was a better way to prevent the flu? What if you could build your immune capacity to the point that no viruses could touch you? What if there was no such thing as flu season?

Beat the Winter Blues with Vitamin D

These questions aren’t a dream. I believe they could be reality. If you and I could understand how our immune system works, we would treat it like royalty. We would honor it for it’s amazing skills to ward off attackers. The problem is most people don’t understand what it means to have a strong immune system. They run on high stress, eat inflammatory processed foods, and avoid the very things that could strengthen their immune cells, like sleep, exercise, garlic, and most important, vitamin D. Instead, they fear getting the next “big virus” and don’t realize that in most cases, their body could easily defend itself with the right tools.

I say, forget the flu shot and take vitamin D. (After all, the CDC has admitted this year’s flu vaccine is not effective.) I’m convinced that having adequate vitamin D intake during the winter months is crucial to health, more than any other vitamin, vaccine, or medication.

Doctors are recommending everyone from babies to the elderly increase their vitamin D levels, and for good reason. There has been a tidal wave of research in the last decade. Vitamin D regulates over 3000 gene processes. When vitamin D is lacking, the immune system becomes compromised and leaves the body vulnerable to viruses and contributes to conditions such as depression, anxiety, asthma, psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Some researchers believe that 50 percent of the population could be deficient in vitamin D. Read more about symptoms of deficiency from The Healthy Home Economist and Everyday Health.

Do you experience the winter blues? You could blame it on vitamin D deficiency. Why? Because our first source for vitamin D is sunshine! When the sun is lower in the sky during the winter months, you have less direct exposure to UV rays. The farther north you live, the less vitamin D your skin can make. In fact, we manufacture practically no vitamin D from October to April where we live in Oregon. Never mind the fact that most of us stay indoors when it’s cold outside!

We know vitamin D is significant, but what do we do with it? I’m glad you asked! Let’s test your knowledge and see how much you really know. Don’t worry; I’ll provide the answers too. :) These facts are compiled from the Vitamin D Council.

Vitamin D Quiz

1. Vitamin D is measured in what kind of units?
A. Millileters or mLs
B. Teaspoons
C. International units or IUs

2. What form of Vitamin D is readily absorbed by the body?
A. Vitamin D2
B. Vitamin D3

3. How many minutes of sun exposure does your skin need to make adequate vitamin D?
A. 20-30 minutes
B. 45 minutes
C. 60 minutes

4. How many IUs can your body make in one day?
A. 5,000-10,000 IUs
B. 10,000-20,000 IUs
C. 20,000-30,000 IUs

5. Sunscreen with SPF of 8 can block up to 95% of Vitamin D production in the skin.
True or False

6. What is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults?
A. 600 IUs
B. 2,000 IUs
C. 5,000 IUs

7. What are good food sources of Vitamin D?
A. Cod liver oil
B. Animal meats
C. Fatty fish
D. All of the above

8. What is the Vitamin D blood test called?
A. 25-hydroxyvitamin D
B. 50-hydroxyvitamin D

9. What are healthy Vitamin D serum levels?
A. 20-50 ng/mL
B. 50-80 ng/mL
C. 80-100 ng/mL

10. What other vitamin and mineral co-factors are important to Vitamin D function?
A. Magnesium
B. Vitamin K
C. Zinc
D. All of the above

Vitamin D Answers

1. Vitamin D is measured in what kind of units?
C. International units or IUs

2. What form of Vitamin D is readily absorbed by the body?
B. Vitamin D3 is the natural form your body can use. Vitamin D2 is the synthetic form.

3. How many minutes of sun exposure does your skin need to make adequate vitamin D?
A. 20-30 minutes in summer sun if you are fair skinned. If you are dark-skinned or African-American, you need up to six times more sun exposure!

4. How many IUs can your body make in one day?
B. 10,000-20,000 IUs, depending on the amount of summer sun exposure and your skin color

5. Sunscreen with SPF of 8 can block up to 95% of Vitamin D production on the skin.
True! It’s vital to allow your skin some sun exposure before applying sun protection – creams or clothing.

6. What is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults?
A. 600 IUs is the daily dose according to the National Institutes of Health. However, government recommendations are far too low! Adults often need up to 5,000 IUs in the winter months to maintain adequate levels. I take 5,000 IUs daily and my December vitamin D test result was 60, right in the normal range. Children need up to 2,000 IUs daily. (Do not take more than 10,000 IUs daily, unless directed by your doctor.)

7. What are good food sources of Vitamin D?
D. All of the above! Cod liver oil, animal meats, and fatty fish can provide small amounts. However, sun exposure is still the best way to get your vitamin D.

8. What is the Vitamin D blood test called?
A. 25-hydroxyvitamin D

9. What are healthy Vitamin D serum levels?
B. 50-80 ng/mL (or nanograms per millileter) is a healthy range. Anything below 50 is considered a deficiency. Levels between 80-100 ng/mL can be helpful for people undergoing cancer treatment.

10. What other vitamin and mineral co-factors are important to Vitamin D function?
D. All of the above! Magnesium, vitamin K, and zinc all contribute to the healthy absorption of vitamin D. That’s why is important to eat a variety of foods from quality sources – nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, eggs, pastured-raised meats and wild fish.

What is your current vitamin D level?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, I highly recommend you ask your doctor for a vitamin D test. It’s a simple blood draw.

If you live in a northern climate and you are reading this post during the winter, first get your vitamin D tested and then start a daily regime depending on what your results reveal. Ask your doctor to advise you. If you are severely deficient, then you will need at least 5,000 IUs a day (and probably more until your levels rise). My personal testimony – I’ve had far fewer colds since I began supplementing with vitamin D.

As far as brand names, your local health food store or pharmacy can recommend quality sources. I generally stay away from ingredients obtained from China, because they often contain additives and heavy metals. Look for supplements made in the United States. Also, consider purchasing from Amazon or iHerb. You can find quality brands for less online. We prefer NOW Foods Vitamin D3 as capsules and THORNE RESEARCH – Vitamin D3 Liquid as liquid drops.

Again, if you have never had your vitamin D tested, run to your doctor’s office today! You could have a vitamin D deficiency and not even know it. For more information, the Vitamin D Council is an excellent resource for all things vitamin D.

Have I convinced you that vitamin D is crucial for health? I hope so!

Maybe the sunshine vitamin is just what you need to beat the winter blues!

This entry was posted in Drugs/Medication, Recommended Supplements, Vitamin D. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beat the Winter Blues with this Flu-Fighting Vitamin

  1. Bea says:

    Yes for vitamin D supplements however I am also a firm believer in vaccinations. We take our vitamin D drops every morning all year round. Many people do not realize just how low their vitamin D levels are and how essential it is.
    Bea recently posted…Black Eyed Pea #Soup with Sweet Potatoes & Carrots {#vegan #recipe}My Profile

  2. Important reminders! I had low vitamin D levels on several tests years ago, but have been supplementing with 5,000 IU’s the past two years and levels were much better at last test.

    I feel extra good about the lard and tallow we render at home from our cow and hog shares, since the fat from grassfed or pastured animals is one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins A, D, and K2–linked to all kinds of benefits, including preventing heart disease!

    I got SOME of the quiz questions right! Always more to learn!
    Create/Enjoy recently posted…A long overdue book recommendation, I know you’ll like this one: OverdressedMy Profile

  3. Bee says:

    I’m so glad you covered this in depth! It’s a HUGE deal in the winter for so many people–and I completely agree that this can help you much much more than any flu shot could–so does exercise! That’s how we keep our immune systems strong. I got some fun vit. D this weekend! I hope you did too :)
    Bee recently posted…Culture Shock: Snack FoodsMy Profile

    • Tracy says:

      Yes, exercise and movement is so important. That would be good for me to cover in a future post. Thanks for the idea! :) I think you are referring to the nice sun we’ve had lately? The problem is the sun is so low in the sky during the winter months, that our skin can’t make any vitamin D or very little. That’s why those of use who live in northern climates usually need supplementation.

  4. Pingback: 3 Pharmaceutical Drugs That Ruined My Health (Part 3) – Antibiotics | Restored Roots

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge