There are various nutrients that work great in up-regulating the immune system and can be taken for a few weeks to increase immunity or in larger amounts at the first onset of symptoms to nip it in the bud.
This time of year, I find that vitamin D is crucial. We get vitamin D from the sun and because it is a fat soluble vitamin, we store it pretty well in the adipose tissues. However here in the northeast, the sun is only strong enough to provide sufficient vitamin D in the summer months, so from mid September to late April we are left to fend for ourselves. Vitamin D is very important for a proper functioning immune system and by February, most of us usually use up our stores from the summer and can quickly become deficient. Studies show that over half of Americans are deficient in the winter months and the ADA is even talking about raising the RDA for vitamin D.
Levels of D can be obtained through a simple blood test done at the doctor’s office. The range for D in most labs is listed as 30mg/dl-100mg/dl and as you can see, this is rather large. There is a big difference if you are 31 or if you are 99 but many doctors see it in the normal range and do not get alarmed. While sun exposure is the absolutely best way to get vitamin D, when that is impossible in the winter months, I suggest supplementing with 1000-2000 IU of D found in Vitamin D Synergy daily for anyone that is between 30 and 40, and up to 5000IU’s such as in Vitamin D Supreme per day for anyone under 30. It is very important to get retested in a month however to make sure you do not go over what you need. If you are taking higher doses of D for long periods of time, it is essential that the vitamin D formulation contains a little vitamin K to prevent calcification. All of our vitamin D formulations contain K for this reason. If you have digestive problems, it is possible that your absorption of D can be hindered. For this reason we can use liquid vitamin D which can be taken orally or applied to the skin for trans-dermal absorption which is also very effective.
An extremely important thing to keep in mind is that there are 2 types of vitamin D. One is called ergocalciferol (also known as D2) which is the synthetic vitamin D and it is not recommended. The second one is D3 (known as cholecalciferol) and it is the D3 that we want to use. Once either form of the vitamin is in your body, it needs to be converted to a more active form. Vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2. However, nearly all the prescription-based supplements contain synthetic vitamin D2! And in case you didn’t know, the vitamin D that is added to milk is not D3 but the highly inferior vitamin D2. Please be on the lookout for the D2 (ergocalciferol) form and avoid it.