Over three million people in the UK could avoid contracting colds or flu every year by taking Vitamin D supplements, according to new research.
Experts have found that Vitamin D can help combat the symptoms of acute respiratory infections such as congestion, runny nose, cough and sore throat. Increasing Vitamin D intake could have wider implications for public health, as it could lead to more people relying on self care for minor ailments, rather than booking GP appointments.
The study, which was published in The British Medical Journal, took an in-depth look into the benefits of Vitamin D. The Queen Mary University academics behind this research analysed more than 11,000 people in 25 clinical trials around the world and found that Vitamin D plays a large role in protecting the body from the onset of acute respiratory diseases including colds and flu.
Vitamin D is also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ as we get the majority of it from exposure to sunlight. Results of this research confirm that colds and flu are most common during the dark winter months, when Vitamin D levels hit their lowest point. This is why the team behind the investigation concluded that Vitamin D deficiency is a leading cause of acute respiratory tract infections and that taking additional supplements can help fight cold and flu.
At the end of the study, raising Vitamin D intake with supplements was found to cut down the number of participants experiencing cold and flu symptoms by more than 12%.
Benefits of Vitamin D Supplements
Unfortunately, due to the British climate, it isn’t always possible to get the necessary amount of Vitamin D from sunlight. One way to boost your intake is to include more Vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, such as fatty fish, fresh citrus fruit, cheese, eggs and soy milk.
Nutritional foods will prove beneficial for your health but this recent research shows that you should also consider taking regular Vitamin D supplements alongside a balanced diet. These supplements can easily be found in most pharmacies, supermarkets and nutritional shops.
Vitamin D plays several different roles in the body, including:
- The aid of calcium absorption for healthy bones and teeth
- Regulation of insulin levels- helping to manage diabetes
- Supporting lung and cardiovascular health
- Supporting the immune system
Other Ways to Treat Colds and Flu
The common cold is, as the name suggest, the most common acute respiratory infection. The symptoms of a cold typically take two days to develop and include a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, sneezing and coughing. These symptoms are at their worst within the first few days of being infected before they gradually start to wear off after about a week.
Although regular Vitamin D intake has been proven to help prevent these symptoms, there are also plenty of ways to help yourself if you do happen to catch a cold.
It may be that all you need to do is call in sick to work and have a few days of bed-rest with plenty of fluids and tissues to hand. If you don’t feel like this will be enough to combat your symptoms, you may wish to consider speaking to your pharmacist. The pharmacist may suggest that you buy some over-the-counter medicines such as fever and pain killers, cough syrups, nasal sprays and decongestants.
What you eat and drink during your cold will also have a big impact on how quickly you recover. Hearty soups, rich in vegetables are a good thing to eat when you have a cold. The water content also helps to keep your fluids up.
If you’re experiencing a fever, it is essential that you drink a minimum of 8oz of fluid every day. This can be in the form of water, fruit juice or soup. It can also be helpful to take a shower in lukewarm water to encourage the body to cool itself down.
Choose Self Care for Minor Ailments
Colds and flu aren’t the only illnesses that can be cared for at home. You might be surprised to find out how many minor ailments do not require a trip to the doctor, but instead, can be self-managed in the comfort of your own home.
There are many benefits to opting for self-care when it comes to minor ailments. Studies show that most of us feel more comfortable and confident taking care of ourselves. Self care can be empowering and give patients the confidence to take better care of their health in the long run. Choosing to care for your minor ailments yourself also reduces the number of GP appointments you make. This allows doctors more time to concentrate on higher risk patients and those with more serious conditions.