The shorter and cooler days of Fall mean less time spent outdoors in the sun. Spending more time indoors will certainly make you lose your tan. But there’s a much more important thing you risk losing that can leave you more prone to winter colds, flu, other infections and possibly even MRSA colonization.
One of the most crucial nutrients your body needs to fight and resist infections is vitamin D. This vitamin plays a big role in helping you avoid and recover from infections. Not only does vitamin D contain antibacterial properties, it also mediates infection-fighting responses in your body’s immune system.
There are many scientific studies that show a strong link between your vitamin D levels and your overall health, including resistance to infections. A study earlier this year in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology showed that vitamin D deficiency in winter are linked to increased risk of infection.
In regards to MRSA infections, a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Disease showed an increased risk of MRSA nasal colonization with low vitamin D levels (Scand J Infect Dis. 2010 Jul;42(6-7):455-60). Some people have MRSA in their nose without being infected. MRSA nasal colonization is associated with an increased risk of getting a MRSA infection.
Do you have a Vitamin D deficiency?
Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting as much of this important vitamin as you need. In fact, 70% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. While your body naturally makes vitamin D every time your skin gets direct sunlight, most people simply don’t get enough sun on their skin each day, especially in cloudy winter months.
Taking a vitamin D supplement, especially in winter, is one of the best ways to make sure you get enough of this important vitamin. The thing is, vitamin D can become toxic to your body if you are taking too much. Also, not all supplements work the same way and some are better than others.
The best way to know if you need to take a vitamin D supplement is to get your vitamin D tested, BUT only using the correct test. The test you want is the 25(OH)D test, NOT the 1,25(OH)D test.
If your vitamin D levels are OK, then you should NOT take vitamin D supplements. Also keep in mind that your vitamin D levels probably change between summer and winter, depending on how much sun you get.
How much Vitamin D do you need?
According to some natural health experts, optimal 25(OH)D vitamin D levels should be 45 to 50 ng/mL or 115-128 nmol/L and should never drop below 32 ng/mL for optimal health. Many people target at least 400 IU per day for their vitamin D dosage. However, some doctors now recommend 1,000 IU per day or more to avoid vitamin D deficiency. Always consult with your doctor and get your level tested before deciding on a vitamin D supplement or how much to take.
The best source of vitamin D is from natural sources of D3. Vitamin D2, commonly in milk, is a synthetic variety that is much less effective than D3. Of course, sunshine on your skin creates the natural vitamin D3 form. You also get some of this vitamin from natural foods such as salmon (360 IU), eggs (25 IU) and cod liver oil (1300 IU).
Below are some rules of thumb about Vitamin D:
- Get 15 minutes of direct sun on your skin each day if you can.
- Get your vitamin D levels tested using the 25(OH)D test, NOT the 1,25(OH)D test.
- Experts say optimal 25(OH)D test results are 45-50 ng/mL.
- If you are deficient, take a quality vitamin D3 supplement.
- If you are deficient, consider a vitamin D dosage of at least 400 IU daily.
Be sure to check with your natural-minded doctor on how much you should take and how to achieve optimal levels for you.
To your best health,
Microbiologist and Natural Health Expert
Author of the Natural MRSA and Staph Treatment and Prevention Guidebook MRSA Secrets Revealed