Why You Want Vitamin D3 (or Sunshine)

Hint: No Colds, No Flu

In sufficient quantity, Vitamin D3 and/or sunshine means no colds, no flu, and no sickness — and for good reason.

Originally published 2009

My friend Vicki Adair was a big fan of Dr. Mercola–an MD who specializes in nutritional remedies. She didn’t find him in time to save herself from the medical industry, but she led me to a terrific source of nutritional information. I think of her every time I visit that site. This time, the subject was Vitamin D and flu shots. This article summarizes what you need to know about both of them.

Vitamin D

I’ve long been a fan of Vitamin C, ever since reading Linus Pauling’s book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, but I have to confess that while Vitamin C has helped to keep me strong and fit, it hasn’t managed to keep from getting colds and the flu. Of course, it turns out that gluten reactions were masquerading as flu symptoms more often than I realized. But after being gluten-free for a year, I still caught at least one serious bug last winter.

Today I find out how to keep such illnesses from ever happening again. In the words of Dr. Cannel:

“If you ask anybody who takes 5,000 units of Vitamin D a day, they’ll tell you they just don’t get sick anymore. The colds and flu — they just don’t happen.”

Of course, much of the Vitamin D you need comes from sunshine — when it’s sunny and it’s warm enough to have skin exposed. In fact, that’s the best possible source for Vitamin D, because it lowers cholesterol, as well. (It is the cholesterol your body manufactures that gets converted to Vitamin D in the skin, when exposed to sunlight.)

People tend to have 1/3 as much Vitamin D in the winter, which pretty much explains why you get sick more often in the winter.

Of all possible explanations for why you get sick more often in the winter, Vitamin D is the best. You don’t get sick because the air is colder, because you’re in more crowded surroundings, or because you don’t exercise as much. All of those might be fairly plausbile valid conjectures — except for the fact the Vitamin D hypothesis is accompanied by a solid mechanism of action:

Sunlight –> Vitamin D –> Antimicrobial peptides and DNA access –> Defense against invaders

Note that understanding the mechanism of action is important! Until we know how X acts as a remedy for Y, any recommendation for X is just a matter of conjecture — and that’s as true for pill-pushing doctors as it is for “aternative health” practitioners and snake oil salesmen.

It turns out that Vitamin D is the precursor to antimicrobial peptides that stop bacteria and viruses dead in their tracks. It also turns out that it provides the most efficient access to the body’s DNA library — the library that tells a cell how to manufacture an antibody for the tuberculosis bug, for example. (100 years ago, the AMA published studies showing that sunlight helped to combat tuberculosis. That sort of thing stopped when they were overrun by the drug companies. After all, there’s no profit in sunlight.)

Dr. Mercola also reports that drug companies are working to combat (profitable) analogs of Vitamin D, because of its reported benefit in reversing cancer. (It is apparently to much to ask for them to do the public a service.)

Beyond its disease fighting effects, it turns out that Vitamin D mediates inflammation. That’s pretty big for me and anyone else who has a gluten intolerance, because inflammation is the mechanism that produces many of gluten’s ill effects. It’s also important for anyone who exercises, since inflammation is one of the side effects.

Ever notice how people are more likely to get sick after strenuous exercise. Now we know why:

Exercise –> Inflammation –> Vitamin D used to fight it –> Vitamin D deficiency –> Susceptibility

So it turns out that, all in all, Vitamin D is a lot more important than I had been giving it credit for.

How Much You Need for Prevention

When you take the vitamin as a supplement, you want Vitamin D3 — the bioavailable form. Your daily need goes down in the summer, when you’re out and about in the sunshine, and it goes up in the winter. So my current plan is to get a 5,000 unit supplement, take two a day in the winter, and one a day in the summer. That’s about the right amount for my body weight. And I figure I can use daylight savings as my clue for when to switch strategies.

The recommended daily amount suggested at Dr. Mercola’s site seems to be:

  • 10,000 units per day for a 300 lb. person
  • 4,000 units per day for a 100 lb. person
  • 2,000 units per day for a large child
  • 1,000 units per day for a small child

So the average 140lb adult typically needs about 5,000 units per day, at approximately 35 units per pound. (I weigh a little over 200 lbs., so my daily need would be 7,000 units or so. I get a decent amount of sunshine in the summer, so 5,000 units is plenty. And since it’s really hard to take too much Vitamin D, it can’t hurt to get a bit more in the winter.)

How Much You Need for a Cure

If you haven’t been getting enough sunshine or taking supplements, and you wind up getting a cold or flu, it turns out that a Vitamin D3 supplement provides a remedy.

According to Dr. Mercola, you should take 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight (or, less accurately, 1,000 units per pound), all in one dose, every day for three days. That should be enough to take any invading microbes by the scruff of the neck and shake them around until they give up and go away. (That would be 200,000 units per day for a 200 lb man.)

Clearly, toxicity is not a significant problem! For example, the Merck pages say that “In adults, taking 50,000 IU per day for several months can produce toxicity.” So a mega dose over a matter of days would have a powerful healing effect, with no real risk of toxicity.

Note, too, that Vitamin D3’s ability to act as cure validates the mechanism of action that is the basis for its abilty to prevent sickness. That fact provides the most telling evidence of all — because if a problem results from a vitamin deficiency, then remedying that deficiency is surely the most effective cure! (Similarly, if providing a nutrient solves a problem, that is the best possible evidence that a deficiency was a primary cause of the problem.)

Flu Shots

Flu shots turn out to be not much more than a scam the drug industries are using to make even more money. (There just never seems to be enough, for some people.) In the first place, there are no well-designed studies that show any preventive effect — and several well-designed studies that show they don’t prevent illness.

So what do you get for your flu shot, in return for wasting your money? You get a toxic chemical cocktail, including:

  • Mercury (in most all of them — and a toxic dose at that, unless you weigh more than 550 lbs)
  • Aluminum (Alzheimer’s anyone?)
  • Antifreeze (How healthy can that be?)

Bottom line: Why on earth would you bother with a flu shot?


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