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Help Prevent Swine Flu With Vitamin D
Swine flu is currently at the forefront of our health concerns. Experts are predicting a pandemic this season. The White House estimates that about 90,000 people will die from the swine flu — more than double the number in a typical flu season. Vaccine manufacturers are working overtime to create a flu vaccine; this vaccine is expected to be ready in mid-October.
The symptoms of the swine flu are almost identical to the symptoms of the regular flu, including cough, fever, aching muscles, fatigue and headaches, so it will be difficult to tell the difference – and perhaps besides the meaning. Also, just like the regular flu, swine flu is spread through airborne droplets from coughing or direct contact with a person who has swine flu.
It is important to know who is most likely to contract swine flu. Those at highest risk include:
- Children aged 6 months to their 19th birthday (but the younger the child the higher the risk).
- Pregnant women.
- People 50 years and older.
- People of any age with heart or lung disease (asthma, COPD, emphysema), or diabetes.
- People with weakened immune systems.
Because the swine flu is a new strain of the flu that we haven’t been exposed to yet, we have yet to develop immunity, and everyone is at risk of contracting the swine flu. That’s why people are so worried about the swine flu this year.
There are many people who dislike the swine flu vaccine for various reasons. It is not my intention to persuade those who are willing to take the vaccine not to take it. But there are other ways to prevent swine flu using natural methods, and reduce its severity if it does strike. 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 basics that apply to almost all common diseases of the upper respiratory tract (colds, flu, etc.). These include:
- Reducing your intake of sugars and other simple carbohydrates. These have been shown to suppress the immune system by reducing the white blood cell count 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.)
- Sleep a lot.
- Wash your hands often, especially if you are around people who may be sick.
- Optimizing your nutritional status
This last one is a little vague…after all, if you eat well or at least take a multivitamin, don’t you have good nutritional status? The short answer, almost without exception, is “no”. The food we eat nowadays is generally lacking in vitamins and minerals for various reasons. And multivitamins are helpful, but I consider multivitamins a good basic “insurance plan” when the goal is just health maintenance. In this case, our goal is to prevent the swine flu, so it is good to adapt nutritional supplements accordingly.
The most talked about natural method to prevent swine flu this year is vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D is often found in foods in ridiculously low doses compared to what our body needs. Certain cold-water fish are the only significant dietary source of vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Fair-skinned individuals 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 supply of vitamin D is 200 IU for adults, 400. IU’s for children – but that’s only to prevent bone diseases like rickets and osteomalacia, not to optimize immune function.
There is significant evidence currently linking low vitamin D levels in the body to low immunity. Indeed, some health care professionals and scientists – myself included – consider the lack of sunlight exposure in the winter months (and the resulting lack of vitamin D absorption) to be a major reason why colds and flu are so prevalent at this time.
It’s a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked now. They should be above 50 ng/mL. If you are an adult, and your vitamin D levels are low, start a high-dose supplement of 5,000 IUs per day, then check again in 3 months. Or get plenty of sunshine – at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight on as much skin as possible every day.
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