We’ve been feeling miserable all week. A sore throat has taken hold. Hot drinks, pain numbing lozenges and paracetamol are providing some comfort
Google searches for affordable sunshine holidays to cheer our winter weather weary souls have been occupying vast amounts of spare time.
So it came as no surprise this morning that the “Sunshine” vitamin otherwise known as Vitamin D has now been linked to cold and flu prevention in a major global study.
There has been conflicting evidence previously on whether Vitamin D protected against respiratory infections. But the new study- published in the British Medical Journal – found indisputable evidence that Vitamin D provides protection against the common cold.
Professor Adrian Martineau, lead researcher from Queen Mary University London said: “This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections. Our analysis of pooled raw data from each of the 10,933 trial participants allowed us to address the thorny question of why vitamin D ‘worked’ in sometrials, but not in others.
“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses.”
The trial participants were recruited from 11,000 participants recruited from 14 countries including the UK, USA, Japan, India, Afghanistan, Belgium, Italy, Australia and Canada.
Vitamin D which has long been associated with good bone and muscle health could be as powerful as the flu jab against “flu like” illnesses, according to the research.
Professor Adrian Martineau believes the study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common.”
Vitamin D – the ‘sunshine vitamin’ – is thought to protect against respiratory infections by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides – natural antibiotic-like substances – in the lungs.
Results of the study fit with the observation that colds and ‘flu are commonest in winter and spring, when levels of vitamin D are at their lowest. They may also explain why vitamin D protects against asthma attacks, which are commonly triggered by respiratory viruses.
Daily or weekly supplementation halved the risk of acute respiratory infection in people with the lowest baseline vitamin D levels.
However, people with higher baseline vitamin D levels also benefited, although the effect was more modest (10 per cent risk reduction). Overall, the reduction in risk of acute respiratory infection induced by vitamin D was on a par with the protective effect of injectable ‘flu vaccine against ‘flu-like illnesses.
In the absence of any Vitamin D supplements to hand this second, Skinny Chips are going to continue to dream of Sunshine holidays from the comfort of our home today.