Major global study says vitamin D protects against colds and flu

Volume 7    |    Issue 22

Bill is a 69 year old who had a noticeable cough. I asked him how long he had suffered with the cough. He said, "Since November." He isn't the first one I've noticed either. Cynthia ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and the flu. And I even suffered with one a few weeks ago. Mine only lasted a couple weeks. If you've suffered from a chest cough this winter — or just want to avoid one in the future — there's an inexpensive vitamin that can spare you from the discomfort.

A major global study found that vitamin D can protect you against acute respiratory infections. We've known for some time that vitamin D can prevent the flu. But this study went a step further and found that the vitamin can stop colds and other respiratory infections as well.

The prestigious British Medical Journal published this study, which was led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). So this study is a big deal. And the results are impressive.

In this study, the researchers evaluated raw data from around 11,000 participants in 25 clinical trials conducted in 14 countries. These included the UK, USA, Japan, India, Afghanistan, Belgium, Italy, Australia, and Canada. While some of the trials yielded conflicting results, the bulk of the studies showed very clearly that vitamin D can fight respiratory infections.

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In fact, the results were so conclusive that lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau from QMUL said: "This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections. Our analysis of pooled raw data from each of the 10,933 trial participants allowed us to address the thorny question of why vitamin D 'worked' in some trials, but not in others.

"The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses."

The researchers said it appears that vitamin D fights respiratory infections by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides in the lungs. These are natural antibiotic-like substances. They also mentioned that this fits the observation that colds and flu are most common in the winter and spring. That's when vitamin D levels are at their lowest. And the researchers also suggested that this could explain why vitamin D protects against asthma attacks. It's common for respiratory viruses to trigger asthma attacks.

So to protect your lungs, it's vital you take 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily and as much as 50,000 IU weekly. Taking it daily or weekly cuts the risk of acute respiratory infection in people with the lowest baseline vitamin D levels (below 25 nanomoles per litre — nmol/L) in half!

Does it work? Absolutely! The week I contracted my cough, I had lab results come back. The only concern was my vitamin D level was a little low. I was taking my vitamin D monthly, rather than daily or weekly. Once the cough started, I started taking it daily, and it cut the time I suffered with the cough in half compared to those around me. Taking vitamin D is vital for protecting you against respiratory infections. And it could save your life, as it might prevent that pneumonia that's so devastating in the winter.

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About Steve Kroening, ND

For over 25 years, Editor-In-Chief Steve Kroening has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Frank Shallenberger, Janet Zand, Nan Kathryn Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

Steve researches breakthrough cures and treatments you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" writers. He writes in a friendly, easy-to-read style that always gives you the power to guide your own health choices and do more research on your own.