As the Melbourne winter weather settles upon us and flu season says it’s annual “HELLO,” it’s the perfect time to start boosting our immune system and building our resilience. A great place to start is making sure that our Vitamin D levels are in tip top shape!
A 2014 report estimated that Australians suffer through 68.9 million cases of colds and flu each year. Yikes! And Melburnians, who tend to be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, may be at a greater risk of colds and flu as a result.
Influenza viruses adapt and are known to mutate and spread quickly, with last year strains particularly nasty. A recent review of 25 high quality (randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled) research trials found that vitamin D supplementation statistically and significantly reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infections (ARIs), including the dreaded flu. The protective effect was most noticeable in those with low vitamin D levels who supplemented daily or weekly.
Optimal Vitamin D enhances the body’s natural immune response and boosts our resistance to infection. Ensuring your Vitamin D levels are at an optimal range, particularly for Melburnians where our skins ability to manufacture vitamin D from the Melbourne winter suns UVB rays is minimal, is key to building a robust defence system. You can also get Vitamin D from foods including organ meats, fish, eggs and mushrooms. But keep in mind, whilst the little things add up, only relying on Vitamin D intake from food is not enough to keep your levels optimal.
To protect yourself and those close to you this cold and flu season, we suggest you:
• Get your vitamin D levels checked early by your health practitioner, a small investment in attempt to ward off a nasty cold or flu (now offered direct at The Health & Wellbeing Studio).
• Maintain good personal hygiene such as regular hand washing, particularly after coughing or sneezing and cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue,
• If you do become unwell, stay home from work or crowded areas if possible, allowing time to rest and recover, and avoid sharing the virus with others – e.g. get your groceries delivered, call in a favour to drop the kids off at school, work from home and speak see your GP for a doctor’s certificate to take time off.
• Manage stress and avoid overdoing it – cortisol (the stress hormone) can deplete your immune function.
• Load up on your pantry first aid kit, using food as medicine. Foods such as bone broths, garlic, ginger, turmeric, protein (especially salmon, eggs, yoghurt), bright orange and dark green fruits and vegetables, oats and Manuka honey.
If you’re prone to multiple colds or flu each year, if your symptoms are particularly nasty or like to linger, or if you have small children, are pregnant or mature aged, speak to your health practitioner about how we can help to increase your resilience this winter.
© The Health & Wellbeing Studio Camberwell, Melbourne 2018
Vitamin D vs the Flu Vaccine – Is there a standout winner? https://www.fxmedicine.com.au/blog-post/vitamin-d-vs-flu-vaccine-there-stand-out-winner (viewed 15/5/2018)
Vitamin D for colds and flu prevention https://www.fxmedicine.com.au/content/vitamin-d-cold-and-flu-prevention (viewed 15/5/2017)
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VicHealth 2015, A study of UV and Vitamin D in Melbourne adults: Research summary, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne pp1-9.