Vitamin D Fights the Flu
COLUMBIA - As outside temperatures drop you might find your own getting uncomfortably high. Every year people flock to the doctors office to get their yearly flu vaccine, but some researchers say there is an alternative that's roughly 50 percent more effective and 100 percent less painful. It's Vitamin D.
Doctors at Focus on Health, a chiropractic care center, encourage their patients to take doses of Vitamin D in order to prevent and treat influenza. Dr. Sam Henley says they don't promote one method over the other, but they've witnessed first hand the effects of taking Vitamin D.
"The thing about the flu vaccine is it's really the pharmaceutical companies best guess from last year. There's a lot of times it may do some good but a lot of times, you know, they'll miss the mark and they won't get the right flu virus," Henley explained.
Cochrane Collaboration is an independent non-profit organization that "conducts systematic reviews of randomized control trials," in the interest of evidence-based medicine. Last year the organization performed clinical trials of the flu vaccine on more than 70,000 people and just recently published its conclusions.
"At best, vaccines might be effective against only influenza A and B, which represent about 10 percent of all circulating viruses."
Charlie Racinowski experienced first hand the effects of both the flu vaccine and Vitamin D. Racinowski previously served in the Marine Corps where he was required to receive an annual flu vaccination.
"I got sick almost every time after getting the flu vaccine, within like, two weeks," said Racinowski.
After the Marines, Racinowski did his own research on how to avoid the flu when he stumbled across Vitamin D studies and their effectiveness to prevent and treat sickness. He now takes Vitamin D religiously and has for the past three years.
"I'm not sick. I just don't get sick anymore," he said.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that converts into a hormone after it's ingested. This prohormone regulates how your body uses calcium and phosphorous, both of which fight off invading bacteria and viral infections.
The flu vaccination works in a very different manner. Researchers look at the previous year's flu epidemic and then make an educated guess as to which strands of the flu will affect people the next season. The vaccine is made up of a few different strands that are then injected either by shot or a milder nasal spray to expose your immune system to the illness. You're immune system then recognizes the illness and fights it off, strengthening future immunity.
According to the Cochrane Collaboration, there are more than 200 different strands each year of the flu. Cochrane Collaboration documented its conclusion after 50 different vaccine trials.
"In average conditions, (partially matching the vaccine), 100 people need to be vaccinated in order to avoid one set of influenza symptoms."
Henley says the best way to build your immunity against the flu might be both the vaccine and Vitamin D.
The vaccine is available in a shot and nasal spray form at numerous locations in town. Likewise, Vitamin D supplements come in pill, powder, and liquid form and are sold in most drug stores and grocery locations.