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Who's Afraid of the Flu? - Not Vitamin D

Updated on December 19, 2012

Part 1

When we enter cold and flu season, most of us have entered a war we are unprepared for.

Now enters the short, cold days of winter. Without stores of vitamin D3 in our fat cells, hope of avoiding sickness depends on supplemental D3.

And so it begins…….

Our bodies fight to stay healthy.

First on our list is the festival of candy: Halloween! Who can resist sugar? All of that sugar suppresses our immune system and adds to our toxic buildup.

After our Halloween, we move into the winter holidays, family get-togethers, parties and celebrations. Indulging is part of the holiday experience; it’s what we do best.

Our New Year's resolutions, which are often to eat a more nutritious diet and to exercise, often come too late. By this time we have seriously depleted our immune systems and without a healthy immune system, we don’t have much of a chance to ward off the flu.

Consequently, we get sick. It must be that bug that’s going around, the drafty house, or the cold weather.

In reality, being sick could have been avoided. It has a lot to do with lack of vitamin D.

The higher the vitamin D level you have the lower your risk of getting sick.

Vitamin D helps produce antibacterial peptides that help protect against the flu. That is why in winter, when there is little sunshine that provides the necessary UVB rays that stimulate production of vitamin D by the skin, people are more prone to deficiency resulting in a compromised immunes system that leads to being overwhelmed by flu viruses.

D3: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin for a good reason. Our body soaks up the UV B ultraviolet rays from sunshine and produces a pro-hormone, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and then the liver and kidneys convert it to vitamin D3.

Consider this: we have approximately 30,000 genes in our body and vitamin D influences 2,000 of them. That's thousands of health benefits from just one vitamin. Without vitamin D, those 2,000 can't function the way they are meant to.

The very best way to get vitamin D is through sunshine.

Here is the great news: vitamin D is free, no strings attached. How often can we say that in life?

The best time to catch the rays

Unfortunately, the best time is opposite of what we have been led to believe because we have been told to avoid the midday sun. The reason to avoid the noonday sun is because that is when the UV A ultraviolet rays are strongest, too, and UV A can lead to skin cancer. The aim is to be in the sun just long enough to get the UV B's you want and need, then cover up or otherwise get out of the sun.

Why the noonday sun? Because UV B rays aren't as strong as the UV A's. In the morning and the late afternoon when the sun is at a lower angle in the sky, the rays have to travel through more atmosphere before reaching us. Those extra miles of atmosphere soak up and deflect the UVB's. No matter how long you stand in the sun at the wrong time, no matter how warm the rays may feel, if it isn't the right time of day, you'll only be getting UVA's, and, remember, the UVA's are the ones you want to keep away from because those are the ones that cause the most problems.

How can you tell the right time to be in the sun?

You can do that by checking a handy link to the US Naval Observatory Azimuth table (http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/AltAz.php)

What's an azimuth?

That's kind of complicated to explain, but suffice it to say that the azimuth table will calculate the angle of the sun in the sky based on the latitude you enter in the calculator and the date. No, you don't need to know your actual latitude; instead, you enter the city you live in, or, if the calculator doesn't have your city in its database, a nearby city it might recognize.

When you see the results the calculator gives you, you want to check the times that have values above 50. Anything below 50 won't give you enough UVBs. Anything above, and you're golden.

There will come a time (unless you live beneath the 35th parallel), when no values on the table are 50 or above. For me in New Jersey, that day is soon approaching: September 20 is the last day I will be able to get UVBs in my backyard.

UVB rays are available to us only certain hours of certain months of the year that the sun is above 50 degrees from the horizon.

Better yet, you can get your own individual, personalized formula to maximize your vitamin D levels?

D-Minder

This is a phone app which discerns how much vitamin D you are actually getting. It takes into account your location, weather, skin color and more. You just enter some basic information like your weight, skin type, location and time and it will compute when and how long you should stay out in the sun your targeted vitamin D, how much you have generated and will even tell you when your time is up.

It will compute your generated vitamin D versus your target vitamin D, as well as track how long you can stay out in the sun and warn you when that time is up.

NO SUNSCREEN when D bathing.

It's important when you go D bathing that you expose 40% of your skin and forgo the sunscreen. Putting on sunscreen that blocks UVB rays is your wasting your time.

"Sunscreen absorbs ultraviolet light and prevents it from reaching the skin. It has been reported that sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 based on the UVB spectrum can decrease vitamin D synthesizing capacity by 95 percent, whereas sunscreen with an SPF of 15 can reduce synthesizing capacity by 98 percent (Matsuoka et al., 1987). ---Wikipedia

D down the drain

Now that your skin has been exposed to UVB rays it needs some uninterrupted time to soak in. D3 from the UVB rays are now on the surface of your skin, waiting to be absorbed into your bloodstream.

I expect you will be as surprised as I was when I found out it takes 48 hours for up to 98% of vitamin D precursor to be absorbed into your bloodstream.

What? Does that mean I can't take showers?

The method to use to protect your vitamin D gains is to wash most of your body with water and save the soap for just the stinky parts. It's as easy as that. You'll be clean, you won't offend the nose, and you keep your vitamin D.

Vitamin D Supplementation For the Cold Days of Winter

UVB sun lamps

Next best to getting your D from the sun is to use UVB sunlamps. But be careful: sunlamps are not the same as tanning beds. UVAs give you a tan, but they won't give you vitamin D (well, they'll give you a little bit of vitamin D, but not much, from 300-315 nano meters. To activate enough vitamin D using UVA, you would practically have to roast yourself at great risk to your skin.)

Because our bodies naturally produce vitamin D from UVBs, using a sunlamp is better than supplements.

I am hard at work researching UVB sunlamps. I am looking for the best quality for the best price. As soon as I know, you will know…..stay tuned.

What do we do if we live above the 35th parallel, we can't get outside at the right time, or we don't have a sun lamp to give us UVBs?

That's where supplements become important.

Next post, we talk about the right way and the right kinds of vitamin D supplements, which is vitamin D3. The wrong kind D2 which is synthetic and can be quite bad for you.

We will really get under the skin of the subject of vitamin D supplements, and much more.


Please continue reading Who's Afraid Of The Flu - Part II here.




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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      That's a lot of information about Vitamin D, and extensively explained too. A very well researched hub, useful for everyone, especially during winters.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      sholland10,

      Glad you are a believer of D3 too!

      This summer you will be all set to vitamin D bath now that you know exactly when to do it; until then enjoy your supplements :o)

      Thanks for your comment, votes and shares!

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I am a true believer in vitamin D3, too. I have seen people who were sick start taking D3 and become better in no time. I knew we shouldn't be in the sun at midday, but I didn't think about there being a best time for the UVB rays. Thanks for the information.

      Votes and shares! :-)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      i love the catchy title!! hehe .. good to know about this vitamin too. this vit really plays an important role on our health.

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 4 years ago from India

      Cathy,

      Again a very informative hub from you. Event though we live in a place which gets very cold in summers ( though it dont snow) and very hot in summers, but still we get some sunshine in winters daily. Usually we take Vit D when advised but I think I might try it out this winter ( as it hasnt set in yet much) . Voting up and sharing with followers.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      MsDora

      You are so welcome. Thank your for letting me know I am so glad it helped.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for all this information on Vitamin D. I've also learned from your responses to previous comments. Voted Up and Useful.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      prairieprincess,

      I'm so glad you like the post and find it informative. Thanks for your comment.

      Vitamin D is actually very easy for us to obtain, if we know the specifics. I know many sun worshippers who are still deficient in vitamin D because of the time of day they sunbath and the sunscreen they slather on their skin.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      prairieprincess,

      I'm so glad you like the post and find it informative. Thanks for your comment.

      Vitamin D is actually very easy for us to obtain, if we know the specifics. I know many sun worshippers who are still deficient in vitamin D because of the time of day they sunbath and the sunscreen they slather on there skin.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 4 years ago from Canada

      Wow, Cathy, this is such an informative hub. I did not realize how intricate of a process it is to get your proper Vitamin D, but now I do. This hub comes just as I am fighting a bad winter cold, so I will definitely work on this. Thanks for writing this and nice to "meet" you here on Hubpages. Take care.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Victoria Lynn,

      Yes, that is one of the many benefits of vitamin D3. I have the best brands for sale on this hub if you are interested.

      I am also looking into a vitamin D sun lamp and will let you know as soon as I find the best quality for the most resonable price.

      Thanks.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Vitamin D is also good for seasonal affective disorder, I have heard. I should get one of those lamps! Have you written a hub on that, too? :-)

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      moonlake,

      Thank your for the comment and the vote, it is very appreciated.

      That's great you are taking vitamin D. Has it made a difference in how you feel?

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I was low on D so now I take it everyday. We live in a state that gets very little sun in the winter and to cold to get out in it. Very interesting hub with good information. Voted Up.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Eiddwen,

      Thank you so much. I am glad you liked it. I am working hard on my next post and it should be out in a couple of days.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Well informed and interesting so I now look forward to so many more by you and also vote this one up.

      Enjoy your day .

      Eddy.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Sherry,

      I don't think you will find vitamin D outdoors this time of year, even in CA. I have provided a link in the above post to an Azitmuth chart with instructions. This will help you determine what time of year is best for sunbathing.

      I suggest you supplement with vitamin D3. If you go to my part 2 on Who's Afraid of the flu, you will find information on supplementation.

      I suggest you get Mercola's multivitamins with D3 and the additional D3 spray which I have for sale on part 2 post. This is what I use for me and my family and I highly recommend it.

      If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      This is a timely article for me as I have had a very irritating cough for a month. Maybe I'll go out for a little sunbathing today, it couldn't hurt.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Teacher,

      I'm glad you liked the post and thank you so much for your comment. Vitamin D will see us through this winter :o)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I take Vitamin D daily and it does make a difference in energy levels and immune system health. Great post. Enjoyed the information and truthful read.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      You are very welcome. Much more to come, stay tuned for part two.

    • profile image

      Jane Ann 4 years ago

      Thank you, very interesting

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image
      Author

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Jennifer,

      This is a good question.

      It may not be the cold air hitting your neck that is making your throat sore. Cold air is very dry, it could be that when you inhale cold air it dries out your mouth and throat. This will give you a sore throat.

      Air conditioners and fans can kick up and blow allergens around such as mold and dust. If you are sensitive or allergic to them it can result in a sore throat as well.

      I hope this helped. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Ms. Immortal

    • profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago

      Ms. Immortal, I have a question. It's not directly related to Vitamin D, but maybe you can shed some light. If I go out in the cold and the air hits my neck, I almost instantly get a sore throat. It doesn't even have to be that cold out. Sometimes a fan or air conditioning can do it. Why do you suppose this is? I've been told cold air itself can't get you sick.