In February 2017, the British Medical Journal published the largest meta-analysis ever showing that Vitamin D does protect against colds and flus. The head of the project, Professor Adrin Martineau, said that they found that Vitamin D was more effective at preventing the flu than flu shots are. I wonder if he thought about how politically incorrect it was to say that.
Fortunately, I have NEVER had a flu shot. I wish I could say I have never had any shots, but I do remember being vaccinated as a child. I remember the polio- vaccine-laced sugar cubes they distributed to us in the 1st grade. I can still see the tray in my mind with those neatly arranged sugar cubes. And I’m sure I had whatever other vaccines were administered in the 1950s, although it was much fewer than they have today.
But, I would never consider having a flu shot- even if I knew in advance that I had to suffer through the flu. I’d rather suffer through it. But, the fact is that I haven’t had the flu in so long, I can’t remember the last time I had it. It’s been a lot of years. Maybe I had it in the 1990s. I definitely haven’t had it in the 21st century.
And for a long time I have been taking 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 every day. Do I think it’s helped me stay well? Yes, I do.
I am going to have my blood level of Vitamin D tested next month, as I do every April. I do a whole panel of blood tests every April; it’s very comprehensive. And if you’re interested, I order it from the Life Extension Foundation in Florida. It costs about $300, but they check everything, including your hormone levels. It’s called the Male Panel, and their phone number is 800 544- 4440. I do it in April because that’s when they have a sale on it and offer the lowest price.
But usually, in the summer I reduce my frequency of taking Vitamin D to every other day, since there is a lot of sunshine, and I do get out in it.
But, I am a great believer in taking Vitamin D. You always want to take Vitamin D3 and never Vitamin D2, which is a pharmaceutical analogue of Vitamin D and not the real thing.
What else can you do to help prevent colds and flus?
Obviously, there is Vitamin C, which is very important. Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables is the first and most important step. I think that taking a little more supplementally is fine to do, but I am thinking in the range of 500 mg to 1000 mg a day. I am not in favor of taking mega-doses along the lines of Linus Pauling, who took 20,000 mg a day. And, it’s not because I think it will hurt you but because I’m afraid your body will adapt to it and crank up all its mechanisms to block, degrade, and eliminate Vitamin C. So, you don’t want to condition yourself to a super-high dose. I would settle for the range that I suggested above.
Zinc has also been shown to be helpful in cold and flu prevention. But, I wouldn’t go higher than 30 milligrams a day in zinc. If you temporarily took more, say at the start of a cold or in the midst of a cold, that would be fine. But, on a regular, ongoing basis, I think 30 milligrams should be the top limit. Remember, there is also zinc in the food you are eating. In my case, I eat a lot of pecans which are loaded with zinc. They are one of the highest zinc foods on the planet, and probably the tastiest.
Beta-glucan is a substance that occurs in foods, a polysaccharide that has been shown to activate certain white blood cells known as macrophages. If you would like an example of a food that naturally contains beta-glucan here’s one: oatmeal. And, beta-glucan has been found to have a direct anti-viral effect. And it’s perfectly safe, so I don’t have any problem with anyone taking it. I don’t do it myself (although I do eat oatmeal) because I don’t seem to have much tendency to getting sick with colds and flu. But, if I did, I would take it.
And then finally I’ll mention the immune-boosting power of various medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi mushrooms. I have been getting into this recently mainly because of the influence of my friend Dr. Joel Fuhrman who is a great believer in the value of mushrooms and has written about it. Keep in mind that the standard button mushroom that you commonly see in the supermarkets doesn’t qualify in this respect.
But, the things I do on a regular, daily basis is take Vitamin D3, and I take zinc, but only as part of my Core Multi from Prothera, not separately. And of course, I am eating a high fruit and vegetable diet and emphasizing other nutritious plant foods like raw nuts and cooked beans. Dark green leafy greens are also very important, such as kale and spinach. This is working for me.