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Help Prevent Swine Flu With Vitamin D
Swine flu is currently at the forefront of our health care. Experts predict a pandemic this season. The White House estimates that about 90,000 people will die from swine flu — more than double the number in a typical flu season. Vaccine manufacturers are working overtime to create a flu shot; This vaccine is expected to be ready by mid-October.
The symptoms of swine flu are pretty much identical to those of the common flu, including cough, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches, so it will be difficult to tell the difference—and perhaps beside the point. Also, just like the common flu, swine flu is spread by airborne droplets from coughing, or by direct contact with a person who has swine flu.
It is important to know who is most likely to be sick with swine flu. Those most at risk include:
- Children from 6 months to 19th birthday (but the younger the child, the higher the risk).
- Pregnant women.
- People aged 50 and over.
- People of any age with heart or lung disease (asthma, COPD, emphysema) or diabetes.
- People with a weakened immune system.
Since swine flu is a new strain of flu that we haven’t been exposed to yet, we have yet to develop immunity, and everyone is at risk of contracting swine flu. This is why people are so worried about swine flu this year.
There are many people who are suspicious of the swine flu vaccine for various reasons. It is not my intention to convince those who are ready for the vaccine not to take it. But there are other natural ways to prevent swine flu and reduce its severity if it does occur. Simply doing nothing and passively relying on the body’s ability to heal itself is foolish. We must actively support the body’s ability to fight swine flu.
First, we can look at the common sense basics that generally apply to all common upper respiratory illnesses (common colds, flu, etc.) These include:
- Reduce your intake of sugar and other simple carbohydrates. They have been proven to suppress the immune system by reducing the number of white blood cells for up to 24 hours.
- Drink plenty of water…ideally, at least 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight per day. (150 lbs = 50 oz of water.)
- Enough sleep.
- Wash your hands often, especially if you are around people who may be sick.
- Optimizing your nutritional status
That last one is a little unclear…after all, if you’re eating well or at least taking multivitamins, aren’t you in good nutritional status? The short answer, almost without exception, is “no”. The food we eat today is generally deficient in vitamins and minerals for various reasons. Multivitamins are also helpful, but I consider multivitamins to be a good basic “insurance plan” when the goal is just to maintain health. In this case, our goal is to prevent swine flu, so it’s good to adjust supplementation accordingly.
The most talked about natural method of preventing swine flu this year is vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D is often found in food in doses that are ridiculously small compared to what our bodies need. Certain cold-water fish are the only significant dietary source of vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Fair-skinned people can produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D just by spending 15 minutes in direct sunlight, while one cup of fortified milk provides only 100 IU of vitamin D. The recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 200 IU for adults, 400 IU for children – but this is only to prevent bone diseases like rickets and osteomalacia, not to optimize immune function.
Today there is considerable evidence linking low levels of vitamin D in the body with low immunity. Indeed, some health professionals and scientists – myself included – consider the lack of sun exposure in the winter months (and the resulting lack of vitamin D absorption) to be a significant reason why colds and flu are so prevalent at this time.
It’s a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked right away. They should be above 50 ng/mL. If you are an adult and your vitamin D levels are low, start with high-dose supplementation of 5,000 IU per day and then recheck in 3 months. Or get enough sun – at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight on as much skin as possible every day.
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