Better Nutrition

THE SUNSHINE STRATEGY

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Promising new studies suggest that boosting your vitamin D levels might help to ward off common cold- weather illness such as the flu. In fact, the active form of vitamin D appears to temper the damaging inflammato­ry response of some white blood cells, while also boosting immune cells’ production of microbe- fighting proteins. Dubbed the “sunshine vitamin,” D may also help you live longer. Researcher­s at the University of California, San Diego, have found that people with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurel­y compared to those with high blood levels of the fat- soluble vitamin. According to the authors of the study, daily doses of up to 4,000 IU are both safe and effective. If you are extremely low in the vitamin, you may need even higher doses— as much as 10,000 IU daily— for a period of time. Ask your doctor to check your blood levels of vitamin D with a simple blood test.

According to the Vitamin D Council ( vitamindco­uncil. org), signs that suggest low vitamin D levels are tiredness, general aches and pains, weakness, pain in your bones, frequent infections, and difficulty getting around. People at the highest risk of a deficiency include those with darker skin; people who spend a lot of time indoors and/ or cover their skin all of the time; older people, whose thinner skin may mean they can’t produce enough vitamin D; anyone who lives in the Northern part of the United States or in Canada; and people who are obese.

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