While it's still true that regular, moderate intensity exercise is helpful in fighting off infections, your next best bet could be as simple as getting enough Vitamin D. Especially in northern climates where exposure to the sun, our primary source of vitamin D, is limited during the Fall and Winter, increasing attention is now being given to vitamin D requirements. And vitamin D deficiencies.
In fact, some physicians contend that a major portion of winter ailments can be attributed to Vitamin D deficiencies, including heart disease, chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, arthritis, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, PMS, Crohns Disease, cancer, MS and other autoimmune diseases. Wow!
A client of ours has seen Vitamin D deficiencies in action 1st hand. Working through lower back pain for several months, she'd gone through physical therapy, chiropractic care, and had several MRIs and X Rays performed to help diagnose the source of her ailment. Nothing worked. Eventually, her physician suggested a diet loaded with Vitamin D, and her back pain went away!
The problem is, it's really, really hard to compensate for the lack of sun. Your body manufactures about 20,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D with just 20 minutes of sun. To get that much vitamin D in your diet would require something like 40 glasses of milk per day! (3300 calories, even if it's skim milk). The good news is that Vitamin D is fat soluble, so your body is capable of storing some D in your body fat. You won't need to consume the entire amount that you would otherwise manufacture, but with close to NO sun exposure these days, some dietary intake becomes critical.
Your best bet is actually an occasional trip to a tanning bed! This, of course, carries the added risk of developing skin cancer, so many of us avoid those.
As a Result, Natural Foods, become your next best source of vitamin D, and here are some high quality choices:
Salmon, canned (3 ounces)530 IUSalmon, cooked (3.5 ounces)240–360 IUTuna, canned (3 ounces)200 IUSoy milk, fortified (8 ounces)100 IUOrange juice, fortified (8 ounces)100 IUMilk, low-fat, fortified (8 ounces)98 IUCereal, fortified (1 cup)40–50 IUEggs (1 large)20–26 IUSwiss cheese (1 ounce)12 IU
The problem is, even a diet with only these foods you could still be deficient in D! So we're not done yet. How much, exactly, you need daily is still under debate, but a daily intake of up to 2,000 IU is currently considered a safe upper limit. The medical community agrees that up to this much won't create other problems, even if they can't agree on what the required minimum should be.
So, even with a naturally rich vitamin D diet, some supplementation is recommended. The best way to take vitamin D supplements is with Calcium. The two nutrients work together to build strong bones and teeth.
Furthermore, it's been shown that taking vitamin D with Calcium can actually reduce your fatty food cravings and help you lose weight!
So, while the Sun is starting to get closer, Spring is a long way off, so please take note of your Vitamin D! If in doubt, have your doctor administer a 25-hydroxyvitamin test to determine if you have optimal levels of Vitamin D in your blood. The Vitamin D Council considers optimum levels to be approximately 50 nM/L.
Looking for even more useful nutrition tips? Ask me about our new Nutrition Together program!