We’re now well into the winter, and we’re all feeling it. It’s the flu season, and it’s on the rise. You know the drill: the sniffles, the aching body, the fever, the nagging cough.

Luckily, there’s a powerful weapon to fight the flu and other viruses: Vitamin D.

You may have heard of fighting colds with Vitamin C, but fighting the flu with Vitamin D may be new to you. Exposure to sunshine helps the body manufacture Vitamin D, and Vitamin D boosts the body’s own virus-fighting ability. This, along with other factors, is why colds and flu increase in the wintertime when there is less sunlight. If you want to use Vitamin D to prevent the flu this year, here is how.

1. Eat lots of fish. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the diet of the Eskimos, who live in a part of the world where there is no sunshine at all for long periods, includes lots of fish oil and is therefore rich in Vitamin D.)

In descending order, some of the fish highest in Vitamin D are as follows:

  • Herring
  • Catfish
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Steelhead trout
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna packed in oil

It’s also very beneficial to augment the diet with cod liver oil and fish oil supplements.

2. Include tofu and soymilk in your diet. Tofu has 124 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D per serving, and soymilk has 119 IU per cup.

3. Choose a good Vitamin D supplement – buy here.  Each of our Vitamin D tablets provides 200 IU.  

4. Increase your Vitamin D intake if you have been exposed to the flu. You can take up to 4,000 IU if you think you’ve been exposed. Make the necessary adjustments for children. Children aged 1 to 10 years should not have more than 50 micrograms (2,000 IU) a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms (1,000 IU) a day. Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.

5. Be sure to drink lots of water. Large amounts of Vitamin D in your blood may raise your risk of developing kidney stones. Water helps flush out the excess vitamin.

6. Get outside in the sun when you can. It can be tough in the wintertime, but go outside as much as possible on sunny days. While your face may be the only skin exposed to the sun, it’s still helpful.

The flu is a serious illness that affects millions of people every year. It’s also hard to avoid. You can protect yourself with vaccines. But the flu vaccine doesn’t always work, and it’s not available for everyone.

A healthy dose of vitamin D can improve your immunity, which means you’ll be better equipped to fight off the illness.

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