While the change in seasons means beautiful fall foliage and often gorgeous weather, it also means that cold and flu season is upon us. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D3 may be as effective as a flu shot in preventing the flu.
The study looked at two groups of 167 children each. One group received vitamin D supplements while the other took a placebo. Almost twice as many kids in the placebo group came down with the flu during the 4 month study!
The amount of D3 that these kids received was well above the usual RDA, which is 200 IU per day. These students were taking 1200 IU daily.
With flu season fast approaching, now is the time to pick up a D3 supplement or start upping your intake of dietary D3 sources. A word of caution: since vitamin D is fat soluble, it is possible to overdose on the stuff. You should not take more than 2000 IU of vitamin D each day.
The Sunshine Vitamin
One of the best ways to get more vitamin D is to play outdoors! It’s the only vitamin that your body can produce naturally, and we use the power of sunlight to synthesize it. Even 15 minutes playing in the sun without sunscreen a few times a week can make a difference.
Dietary Sources of D3
The only significant non-fortified, non-animal source of dietary D3 is mushrooms. A cup of mushrooms provides just over 160 IU of D3.
Many grain, soy, and dairy products are supplemented with D3. Some juices are fortified, too. The vitamin D content of food is usually expressed in micrograms, so you may need to bring your calculator. For vitamin D, one microgram is about 40 IU.
Seafood is also a good source of dietary D3, especially fatty fish like herring and salmon.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by anniferrr