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Vitamin D May Cut Risk of Flu

Study Shows Vitamin D May Help Prevent Respiratory Tract Infections

Watching for Signs of Illness continued...

Sabetta says the findings suggest that supplementing vitamin D to achieve a blood level of 38 nanograms per milliliter or higher could result in a significant health benefit by reducing odds of contracting viral infections of the respiratory tract.

But he says more studies are needed to determine the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention of infections, including influenza.

The researchers conclude that the lower levels of vitamin D seen during the winter in temperate climates may contribute to the prevalence of influenza in colder months.

The findings, Sabetta says, have significant implications for public health and also may explain the seasonality of certain infections, and also the higher morbidity and mortality of such illnesses in people who are predisposed to lower concentrations of vitamin D.

Sabetta says vitamin D has known effects on the immune system, and the study reinforces the association between vitamin D deficiency and susceptibility to infections of the respiratory tract.

The study is published online in the journal Plos ONE.

Vitamin D levels depend "on how big you are, your skin color, your diet and how much sun exposure you get," Sabetta tells WebMD. "Individuals should get their vitamin D levels checked. If you are gardening a lot, you probably are fine, but people in an office all day may need supplements."

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