vitamin-d

What NOT to do to fight a cold

Oct. 26, 2012 at 8:23 AM ET

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Suffering? Vitamin D may not help you, but there are ways to boost your immunity this season.

By Elizabeth Narins

Women's Health

There's one vitamin that comes pretty close to perfect on paper--until now. Researchers have long sung their praises for D, the vitamin proven to fend off everything from bad moods, to belly fat - we're talking bone-strengthening, cancer-fighting, life-lengthening power. Damn.

Not to rain on the vitamin D parade, but a new study suggests that D isn't all it's cracked up to be - at least when it comes to fighting colds. The New Zealand study of 322 healthy adults found that those who took large monthly doses of vitamin D got just as many colds (that lasted just as long) as the people who took placebos.

That said, don't toss the D pills just yet. "This is far from a conclusive look as to whether D fights colds or not," says Alisa Bowman, author of The Vitamin D Diet. Lurking variables include the participants' initial vitamin D levels. "If they were normal, a supplemental dose [of vitamin D] wouldn't have done any good anyway," she says. Individuals' initial immunity--also unknown--could have also played a role in the results.

Study gaps suggest there may be a ray of hope for vitamin D, despite its somewhat tarnished reputation as a cold-fighter. "D has been shown over and over again to do so much good beyond immunity that I don't think this is any reason for it to drop from favor. [Vitamin D supplements] are cheap, easy to find, and tiny (won't make you gag). They are great insurance, especially during the winter months. And if you want stronger bones and better health (who doesn't?), definitely keep taking your D."

And while vitamin D might not help you stave off sickness this season, there are other ways to keep yourself healthy. Boost your immunity with these foods, germ-proof your office, get your flu shot ASAP, and pick up the best OTC medicines - just in case.

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