Flu season is around the corner. Perhaps your child is already coming home with the sniffles, and you’re thinking to yourself “Oh no...here it comes!” In this state of panic, you begin thinking of prevention. How to prevent your child from getting worse, and how to prevent yourself from getting sick.
With hopes that all of you have a flu-free Fall, I want to present you with some effective options for preventing cold and flu, and also natural methods to help you recover quickly if you get it.
I know it’s flu season when I begin to see signs all around saying “Get Your Flu Shot Here”. The flu shot is supposed to help you protect yourself from getting the flu. But over and over every year, I hear my friends and colleagues say they don’t understand why they got sick since they had the flu shot. They still get the shot every year, knowing that it may not be effective.
In my early 20’s, I began to research everything I was putting in and on my body. I stopped eating foods that had pesticides, artificial coloring or additives. I stopped using skincare that had harsh chemicals and preservatives. I stopped buying household chemical cleaners and began making my own with natural products. It was during this time that I was first advised to take the flu vaccine. Not for any particular reason - I rarely got the flu at that age. But I was told that it was good preventative care. So of course, as with anything else, I first looked up the ingredients. I did not feel comfortable with what I found. There were just too many ingredients that were either alarming or questionable to me. It didn’t make sense why I should inject these substances into my bloodstream when I was feeling overall healthy. And if I wasn’t feeling healthy, then I definitely would not want to do that. So that kicked off my research on how to prevent the flu naturally. (Flu shot ingredients listed below for those interested.)
We already know that the key to prevention is to maintain good health - eat right, sleep, exercise, don’t stress, etc. But still we get the dreaded cold and flu every year, sometimes more than once. Fortunately, there are some proven natural remedies for flu prevention and care.
Perhaps the number one prevention measure that has worked for me and my family over the years is supplementing with Vitamin D. I started doing this when I found that a number of studies concluded that Vitamin D was more effective than the flu shot. A few years ago, a scientific review of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu. Overall, the studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. As reported by Time Magazine:
"… [P]eople who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …
For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say."
The researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that "this may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body's natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …"
According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the US alone. I learned that optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available.
The best way to get Vitamin D is through safe sun exposure. Getting 15-20 minutes a day of direct morning sunlight to your bare skin is one of the best things you can do for yourself (see my other articles for more on sun exposure).
If that’s not possible, then supplement with Vitamin D3. The dose you need really depends on your current blood level of vitamin D. If it's very low, you may need 8,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The only way to know how much you need is to get tested at least once or twice each year.
If you've been supplementing for some time and your levels are still below 45 ng/mL, you then have to increase your dose further. If using an oral supplement, make sure to boost your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake, as these nutrients help optimize vitamin D levels. Remember that those who are of Indian descent may not easily absorb Vitamin D thru natural light. So it’s important to check your levels during your next physical.
For children, supplement with 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily, but ensure they get plenty of sunshine even through the winter. If my child comes down with a cold, the first thing our homeopathic pediatrician asks us is whether she has been getting out in the sun every day. For me, when I feel the onset of a cold, I go for a sunbath. I cover my face and arms (where I don’t want to get too tan) and expose other areas to the sunlight. It works like magic.
There’s more to flu prevention...and also ways to treat the flu naturally. I’ll explain that in next week’s article. But first, I wanted you to absorb this information, and hopefully absorb some Vitamin D too!
(If you have any questions about supplementing with Vitamin D, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
To your good health!
Here are ingredients that are commonly found in the flu shot. You can read about any specific brand flu shot on the CDC website.
Thimerosal - mercury
Chicken Egg Proteins
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
Octoxinol 9 - a vaginal spermicide
Triton X 100 - a detergent
Phenol - carbolic acid
Ethylene Glycol - Antifreeze
Betapropiolactone - a disinfectant