Japanese Study suggests that Vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A in schoolchildren.
According to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the risk of children suffering from flu can be reduced by 50% if they take vitamin D.
The finding has implications for flu epidemics since vitamin D, which is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, has no significant side effects, costs little and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines.
"Only one in ten children, aged six to 15 years, taking the sunshine vitamin in a clinical trial came down with flu compared with one in five given a placebo". Mitsuyoshi Urashima, the Japanese doctor who led the trial,
How does Vitamin D work?
Vitamin D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and increasing macrophage (a type of white blood cell) activity. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides in other white blood cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection.
Start Supplementation Early!
In the study, children were given a daily dose of 1200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D over a period of three months. In the first month children in the group taking the vitamin became ill just as often as those taking the dummy tablet. But by the second month, when the vitamin level in the children’s blood was higher, the advantage of the vitamin was clear. So it's best to start supplementation right away instead of waiting.
KARIM PREMJI, CNP, CIR. IR
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