Getting through winter lurgy free with vitamin D

People I know are being told left, right and center that they are vitamin D deficient. During my last pregnancy, a midwife congratulated me because I was one of the 20% that had good vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is a particularly common in pregnancy when it is needed to help your baby absorb calcium to make strong bones. In mums, it helps you to absorb calcium to maintain bone and muscle strength and protects against heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. It also plays a vital role in immune system health.

This cold snap we are having here in Sydney made me think about what I need to start doing to protect myself and the family from the nasty winter viruses. We’ve already had some annoying virus chomp through the family and my poor little 2 year old ended up with tonsillitis.

Inadequate vitamin D levels are associated with an increase in frequency and severity of viral and bacterial infections. Since my baby was born, I have been spending much less time out doors and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that my vitamin D levels are no near what they were in July last year. With the colder weather, my kids have also been spending much less time outside  and I need to be mindful that they are getting enough vitamin D.

A note for those following a vegan diet- All naturally occurring vitamin D foods are animal products because it is a fat soluble vitamin produced by animals.  You can get vitamin D in your diet by eating fortified soy and tofu products. These are fortified with a synthetic form of the vitamin.

Here’s my vitamin D winter maintenance plan:

  1. Spend time outside when the sun’s out! Here in Australia, we can still get enough UV-B from the sun to make enough of our own vitamin D. Get at least 20 minutes of sunshine without your hat and sunscreen. In summer, you don’t need anywhere near as long to get what you need because there are more UV-B rays and you wear less clothes. So from now on, every day it’s not raining, I’m going to take my little boys out for a 20 minute walk or a play in our back yard. I’ve been pretty lazy since the littlest one came along, I’ve been relying on the older kids to play outside with him. Time for me to get off the breastfeeding couch and go play outside with my toddler again.
  2. Eat lots of oily fish. Some of the fish highest in Vitamin D are as follows:
    • Herring
    • Catfish
    • Salmon
    • Trout
    • Halibut
    • Sardines
    • Mackerel
    • Tuna
  3. Include eggs in your diet . We have chooks laying more eggs than we can manage so this isn’t too hard for me and my family- except that we don’t really eat eggs that much. I’ll have to start using them instead of giving them away. Mmm, spinach quiche. I’ll see what I can do about writing up some of my egg recipes.
  4. Choose a good Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D3 is a far superior form of supplementation than D2 and less likely to cause problems if taken in large amounts. If you are vegan you will need to use the synthetic vitamin D2 form if you feel that you need to supplement. Most supplements are in increments of 1000 IU –  you can take up to 5000 IU per day. No more than 2000 IU is suggested for children aged two to four, and no more than 3000 is recommended for children under ten. I will have some vitamin D3 drops on hand until my little boy  gets better and for when and (fingers crossed) if anyone in the house gets snotty again. I will rely on diet as much as possible but if you don’t eat fish or tofu and find it hard to get outside, supplement!
  5. Increase your Vitamin D intake if you have been exposed to a cold or flu. You can take up to 10,000 IU if you think you’ve been exposed. Make the necessary adjustments for children following the guidelines above.
  6. Drink plenty of water. Large amounts of Vitamin D in your blood may raise your risk of developing kidney stones. Water helps flush out the excess vitamin. I’ve slipped with my water drinking, I’ma camel at heart, I’ll get back to it tomorrow- promise. You?

So… Comments? Who’s got some oily fish or egg recipes to share? Or perhaps some fun outside activities to do with or without itty bitty ones?