The research on Vitamin D providing bone health benefits is consistently conclusive. The research on using Vitamin D to prevent respiratory infections has been more mixed.

So, to get a more definitive answer, a team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London decided to take a look at pooled data from 25 separate trials.

The team reviewed data specifically on respiratory tract infections, which covers a wide range of illnesses from a sniffle to flu to pneumonia.

Overall, the study said one person would be spared infection for every 33 taking Vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D supplementing can be an important part of your defense

That is more effective than flu vaccination, which needs to be administered to 40 people to prevent one case. (You can read about that previous research at the Cochrane Review here.)

It should be noted that the Queen Mary study was looking at all respiratory conditions, not just flu—which flu shots are designed for.

At the same time, “getting a flu shot” is often touted as a cure-all protection against other respiratory conditions. So, the Queen Mary study sheds interesting light relative to these claims.

If Vitamin D supplements provide broader protection for respiratory conditions overall, then it is a protective step that deserves serious examination.

Moreover, Vitamin D supplements do not come with the risk of serious side effects that vaccinations do.

Lead researcher, Professor Adrian Martineau, summed it up this way: “Assuming a United Kingdom population of 65 million, and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly Vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year.”

The UK’s public health overseer Public Health England already advises everyone to take Vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter for the sake of healthy bones and muscles. But now there are calls for fortifying foods with Vitamin D—as is done the United States—for the benefit of fighting colds.

And this includes the researchers from the Queen Mary study.

According to Professor Martineau: “Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of Vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound Vitamin D deficiency in several countries.”

Should you or the government determine the quality of your supplements?

This suggestion has detractors among natural health advocates, though. Here’s why:

Though encouraging a greater intake of Vitamin D is a good thing, fortifying food with Vitamin D creates its own set of problems. For starters, when government mandates the fortification of foods, food manufacturers utilize the cheapest source they can get their hands on.

Think chemical-based cheap vitamins mashed together in a factory in China!

These cheap synthetics often cause more damage than benefit to the body—and informed consumers know this. So, when they choose to supplement they want quality food-based supplements (i.e. “whole food” vitamins and minerals).

Secondly, when the populace is told the processed foods they are consuming are “fortified,” they tend to feel they are being healthy. Hence, they continue to not consume the healthier option of higher-nutrition un-processed, un-packaged foods.

So, rather than mandating fortification of foods that don’t naturally contain vitamin D, why not encourage the consumption of wholesome Vitamin D foods in the first place?

Regular dosing is best

Another valuable kernel of knowledge gained from the Queen Mary research was the discovery that greater benefits were realized by those taking supplements daily or weekly, rather than in monthly “super-doses.”

Keep this in mind when you embark on your own supplementing regimen. Consistent daily supplementing works best for most nutrients.

When supplementing with Vitamin D, be sure to use a supplement that utilizes food-based nutrients and includes other essential nutrients that work synergistically with the Vitamin D. Please see Optimal Longevi-D by Optimal Health Systems for more information.

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Sources: BBC News, British Medical Journal, Cochrane Review.