Vitamin D Supplements Reduce the Risk of Flu – Especially in Children

The doctors of pharmacology at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database are reminding us healthcare professions to inform our patients that vitamin D supplements may reduce the chance of getting influenza.

Vitamin D levels decrease during the winter months, during the time that influenza is prevalent. Studies have also shown that lower serum vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory infections.

As I’ve told you in a past blog, one research study now shows that school children who take vitamin D have a lower risk of developing the flu.

Taking vitamin D3 1200 IU daily during the winter reduced the risk of flu by about 42% in children.

So, the NMCD tells physicians to “explain to parents that this is promising, but preliminary. Advise parents to make sure their kids get adequate vitamin D, usually at least 400 IU/day.”

For adults, at least until the new Institute of Medicine recommendations come out in November, I’m recommend adults under age 50 take 1000 IU a day and those 50 years of age or older take 2000 IU daily.

And, as I’ve told you before, I believe having your doctor check you vitamin D level (it’s a simple blood test) is a reasonable thing to consider.

What am I doing in my practice? Checking a vitamin D level as part of my annual exam. I do this on all adolescents and adults. If the vitamin D level is below 50, I suggest supplementing with vitamin D and rechecking. I give my patients two options:

  1. Take an OTC vitamin D, 2000 IU per day, and recheck the level in 4-6 months, or
  2. Take prescription vitamin D, 50,000 IU per week for 12 weeks and then recheck the level.

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