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Vitamin D May Be the Key to Fewer Colds

Could a simple vitamin (and no, not vitamin C!) be the key to cutting down on the seemingly never-ending colds and infections that are highjacking our households this winter?

girl taking vitamin D Gundam Ai/Shutterstock
A familiar refrain has been growing among moms in my Northern New Jersey community: When will winter be over? Because we are all so sick of, well, our kids (and sometimes us!) getting sick.

Now a new study published in the British Medical Journal says there may be an OTC vitamin we can take to prevent colds and respiratory infections from hijacking our lives from November through March. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not vitamin C (although taking that certainly won’t hurt!).

Researchers looked at 11,000 people across 14 different countries, and found that beefing up on vitamin D can reduce one’s risk of getting a cold by 12 percent. As a mom who has been back and forth to the pediatrician more times than I care to think about recently, I’ll take those odds!

The study authors also add that people who are deficient in this key vitamin are more likely to suffer from a range of respiratory issues, from a cold, to ear infections, bronchitis, and even pneumonia.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics most kids need vitamin D supplementation because they likely aren’t getting enough of this vital nutrient from food or the sun, especially given modern parents’ fears over too much sun exposure.

For breastfed infants, and those who are formula-fed, it’s recommended they get 400 IU of vitamin D per day. The requirement is the same for older children, unless they are drinking 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified milk per day. Teens need 600 IU of the vitamin per day through food or supplementation. (Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so it's possible to overdose but also very unlikely—an adult may overdose if he or she takes 40,000 IU per day for a few months.)

Meanwhile, pregnant women should consider vitamin D supplementation, especially since their immune systems are compromised. It may also offer other benefits for your growing baby.

The bottom line: There seems to be no down side to giving your entire family vitamin D. So talk to your pediatrician to make sure your kids are getting enough! 

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.