Dr. Sharman’s Musings

Cold and Flu – Cause and Prevention

cold and flu photo
Swallow Falls – photo courtesy of Dr. Sharman

Wondering if you’ll get the common cold or the flu this winter?  The question is not IF you will be exposed but WHEN.  Germs and the flu virus exist everywhere you go… the grocery store, work, the coffee shop, etc.  Well, you have a lot more control over getting sick then you think!  Both your current health and the strength of your immune system during the time of exposure have an impact on cold and flu prevention.

Let’s take a look at the cause of cold and flu. 

I’m a huge fan of health and wellness expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and much of what I’m sharing with you comes straight from him.  He states that many people incorrectly believe that colds and flu are caused by bacteria when they are actually caused by viruses – rendering antibiotics a completely ineffective treatment.  It is also important to recognize that, although a virus triggers your cold or flu symptoms, it is not the real cause of the illness.

What is the real cause of and best preventative for colds and flu?

Dr. Mercola goes on to say that while an impaired immune system is my somewhat simple response, research has confirmed that “catching” colds and flu may be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency!  Vitamin D deficiency has already been linked to a wide spectrum of diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disease and many others.  Less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza and other respiratory infections.

If I had to choose only one tactic for fighting off colds and flu (and part two of this article will explain all the other tactics I recommend), I take at least 2000 IUs of Vitamin D3 a day.  If you know that you are below 50ng/ml in your blood, then I would take at least 4000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily.  Vitamin D has a very powerful anti viral affect.

So how does vitamin D help?

A new study explains this more clearly.  T-cells in the body fight infections.  For T-cells to be activated, they need help from vitamin D.  When a T-cell recognizes a foreign “invader” like the cold or flu virus, it sends activating signals to the vitamin D receptor gene. That gene produces a protein that binds vitamin D in the T-cell…and then produces another protein that acts as the catalyst for the T-cell to start fighting the infection.   If this isn’t enough science for you, check out this article that provides greater detail.

How about flu shots?

Now many of you may have thought I’d suggest getting a flu shot as your one big tactic.  Those of you who know me well know that I am not an advocate of flu shots.  I have never had one and am not convinced that they are effective.  While a personal choice to be sure, there is much research that suggests potential long-term harmful effects of the flu shot.  I can only advise you to weigh the risks and benefits and decide for yourself.

While vitamin D is my BEST recommendation for a preventative treatment – it’s not my ONLY advice for you this cold and flu season!  Stay tuned in January for part two on this topic.  In the mean time, enjoy the holidays…and take your vitamin D!

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