My tip of the winter is to get your Vitamin D levels measured. Having optimal levels of Vitamin D in your blood stream is essential for a healthy immune system. It is extremely protective against colds and flus, as well as cancer and seasonal affective disorder. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, instead of a vitamin. It needs sunlight to make it active via our skin. Folks with darker skin tones, who use sun screen or who live in regions of the world north of the 33rd latitudinal line are typically deficient without supplementation. Vitamin D is naturally occurring in small amounts of salmon, mackerel, sardines, eggs, but not in the quantities that are known to be optimal. Most everyone could be taking 2,000 iu day, with the caveat that this needs to be in addition to a healthy diet that includes lots of dark leafy green vegetables to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin K and loads of orange vegetables such as carrots and squash to ramp up the amount of Vitamin A in your blood stream. Vitamins A, K and D are all fat soluble, get stored in the liver and work together to maintain a happy immune system. I commonly see folks who come into my office with the chief complaint of anxiety, depression, frequent colds or flu, and/or seasonal allergies with serum Vitamin D levels well below the lower recommended limit of 30. It is always best to actually know what your levels are. I like to test for genetic mutations in relation to the Vitamin D receptor. I am not surprised when I find a mutation in folks who walk in with levels so low, they catch every cold coming by and every year have to ramp up their anti depressants to cope through the long winter. So the take home is get your blood levels measured. I either run it through insurance or I have a lab coop I am a member of to get discounted prices for my patients. It is $29 with a draw fee of $7 or if your insurance covers labs we can go that route.
Here is a decent article from Dr Andrew Weil on Vitamin D.
Happy New Year!