This Vitamin Could Cut Your Flu Risk Nearly in Half

by Alan Hewitt on April 30, 2012

By Dr Don Colbert
May 30, 2012

Studies show 50%-85% of the general population has lower than optimal levels of vitamin D.

95% of adults over fifty do not have adequate intake of vitamin D. Less than optimal levels of vitamin D place people at a high risk for several degenerative diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.

In fact, vitamin D supports overall health, impacting a long list of bodily systems and processes including:

  • The cardiovascular system
  • Weight management, including carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  • Cell formation and cell longevity
  • Skin health
  • Pancreatic health
  • Sleep patterns
  • Hearing
  • Reproductive health
  • Athletic performance
  • Eye health
  • Respiratory health
  • Immune health
  • Healthy mood and feelings of well-being
  • Hair health
  • Strong and healthy bones
  • Muscles
  • Proper digestion and food absorption

Not only do the majority of people have less than optimal vitamin D levels, but an estimated 36% of the population has dangerously low levels of vitamin D.

This may prove to be a leading cause of preventable disease and death worldwide.

In contrast, adults and children with higher vitamin D levels contract considerably fewer cold, flu, and other viral infections.
They also tend to feel more energetic and have a greater sense of well-being.

In fact, a May 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that children receiving low doses of Vitamin D got the flu 42% less often. 

Plus, a study published in the September 2011 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests optimal levels of vitamin D could lead to significantly fewer deaths and an increase in life expectancy by two years.

This study identified the affect vitamin D has on reducing the risk of vitamin D-sensitive diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory infections and diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes.

Additional vitamin D-sensitive diseases and conditions are Alzheimer’s disease, falls, meningitis, Parkinson’s disease, maternal sepsis, pre-eclampsia, and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D is Not Just for Bone Health

Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body. Most people are familiar with the role of vitamin D in healthy bones and teeth. For example, supplementation with vitamin D at dosages of 700-800 IU daily or higher has been associated with a 23-26% improvement in bone health, especially for older adults.

In addition to being central to bone and dental health, vitamin D also boosts immunity and helps your body fight infection. Science Daily cites a recent study revealing adult patients who are admitted to the hospital with pneumonia are more likely to die if they have vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is also responsible for the regulation of over 2,000 genes in your body. It also supports cell growth, neuromuscular function, and reduction of inflammation, thereby reducing your risk of major diseases.

What You Can Do to Ensure You Have Optimal Vitamin D Levels

A simple blood test is advised to determine your current vitamin D level. This is the only way to know exactly how much vitamin D you need. Any general practitioner can perform this test.

Once you determine your individual need for additional vitamin D, the only ways to increase your level are through safe sun exposure, fortified foods and supplementation.
Sun Exposure 

Vitamin D is only produced naturally by the body when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Human skin cells can synthesize adequate vitamin D after exposure to UV-B rays from sunlight, which is why it is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin.”

However, ageing skin produces less vitamin D than younger skin. The average 70 year old person creates only 25% of the vitamin D that a 20 year old does. The colour of skin also matters. The darker the skin, the less vitamin D it produces. Most people incorrectly assume they get enough vitamin D from a healthy diet alone.

Season, time and length of day, cloud cover, air quality, skin type, and sunscreen affect vitamin D synthesis. Exposure to direct midday sun for ten or fifteen minutes each day may be enough to produce adequate vitamin D levels, but we are advised to limit our sun exposure and always wear sun protection.

Furthermore, many people do not have access to a direct midday sun every day. Higher levels of air pollution, like in industrial regions, can also block the sun’s rays.

These factors result in significant vitamin D deficiency for many people. Studies show that even 40% of people living in sub-tropic climates are vitamin D deficient.

Sun protection remains important due to the prevalence of skin cancers. As you limit sun exposure, however, you must add vitamin D to your diet and/or take a supplement to achieve and maintain the optimal level.

Fortified Foods

Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel along with fish liver oils are the best sources. Egg yolks and butter are also sources.

Many people supplement with cod liver oil, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids and contains vitamin D. It also contains significant amounts of vitamin A.

Studies show high doses of vitamin A may increase your risk of a fracture. For example, some studies have shown that increased intake of vitamin A (retinol form) can increase your risk of a fracture by 40%.

For this reason, I do not recommend cod liver oil to patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the average person’s diet. For example, fortified milk provides 100 IU per cup.

In comparison, the average vitamin D supplement provides 400 IU to 2,000 IU per day. Many breakfast cereals contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice and yoghurt. Other dairy products, such as cheese and ice cream, are generally not fortified.

As with many conventional foods, many fortified foods are processed or injected with hormones and antibiotics making them a poor choice for a healthy diet, so eat fortified foods with caution.


The cost of a vitamin D supplement is generally very low, making it an easy and practical way to increase your level of this critical vitamin. This, along with a healthy diet and safe amounts of sunlight, is a good way to support your health and reduce your risk of disease.

I recommend Divine Health Vitamin D3 for my patients. I am able to clinically follow the effects of it through lab work. Vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol, is the active form of vitamin D. In its active form, vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium from the small intestines.

Vitamin D3 also provides the same form of vitamin D our bodies create naturally. Healthy bones need Vitamin D3 to properly use calcium and phosphorus.

Vitamin D3 helps regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption through the intestines, reduces kidney excretion of calcium, and regulates the amount of calcium in the bones.

Since all cells and tissues in your body have vitamin D receptors, it is important to select a vitamin D supplement that is highly absorbable, meaning it is readily used by the body.

Some mass-produced nutritional supplements contain poor-quality synthetic nutrients and may, in fact, be harmful.

These man-made multivitamin and mineral supplements are usually made from mineral salts, which are poorly absorbed by your body and therefore vastly less effective but very inexpensive. Further, many manufacturers use toxic excipients or fillers in vitamin tablets.

Like all Divine Health products, 
Vitamin D3 Sugar-Free Chocolate Flavour Chewables are made of pharmaceutical grade ingredients and manufactured by a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Vitamin D3 chewable chocolate tablets make getting your daily vitamin D convenient, and they have been formulated to taste great too.

I typically recommend 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D for most patients, but I may increase the dose to 4,000 or 6,000 IU per day for a few months until the vitamin D level reaches the optimal range of 50 ng/mL.

About the Author

Don Colbert, M.D., is board certified in Family Practice and Anti-Aging medicine. He is a New York Times Best-selling author with over 10 million books sold. He is the Medical Director of the Divine Health Wellness Center in Orlando, Florida. He is also the Medical director of Harvest Time International Medical Center, a non-profit medical center for the underprivileged.

Together, he has treated over 40,000 patients. He is also a internationally known expert and prolific speaker on Integrative Medicine. He has been featured on Fox News, ABC World News, BBC, Readers Digest, News Week, Prevention Magazine and many prominent TV programs. He is also the radio host of his syndicated program “Dr Colbert’s Health Report.”


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