Preventative Strategies That Can Reduce Your Chances of Influenza, Sepsis and Other Secondary Infections
Your immune system is your first-line defense against all types of infections, be they bacterial or viral, so the most effective way to avoid coming down with the flu is to bolster your immune function. While conventional health authorities claim getting an annual flu shot is the best way to ward off influenza, the medical literature actually suggests vitamin D optimization may be a far more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least a decade.
Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be a causative factor in influenza. His hypothesis7 was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.8 It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.9
The following year, a large, nationally representative study confirmed that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu.
Since then, a number of studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review11,12 published last year concluded that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu. In all, 25 randomized controlled trials were included in the review, involving nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. People with significant vitamin D deficiency (blood levels below 10 ng/mL), taking a vitamin D supplement reduced their risk of respiratory infections such as influenza by 50 percent.
People with higher vitamin D levels also benefited, although not as greatly. Overall, they reduced their risk by about 10 percent, which the researchers stated was about equal to the effect of flu vaccines. Coincidentally, 10 percent is the effectiveness rate of this year’s flu vaccine.13 The take-home message here is that vitamin D supplementation far exceeds the flu vaccine in terms of effectiveness, and the more deficient you are, the greater its protective effects.
Aside from vitamin D, loading up on vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C.14 Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold or flu can also be helpful.
Zinc boosts immune function and plays a vital role in activating your body’s T cells (white blood cells tasked with destroying infected cells). If you fall victim to frequent bacterial infections or colds, your body might be trying to tell you it needs more zinc.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers
Dir Preventative and Resorative Medicine