Hello VAANP Supporters & Friends!
Today we’re providing you with a few quick and easy immune-promoting tips, to help you navigate the fall & winter months. (We will also be sharing these with our legislative friends in the General Assembly, as they get ready for the upcoming Session!)
If there’s one thing that can inhibit proper immune function more than most others, it is stress. And given the unprecedented whirlwind that 2020 has been so far, it’s safe to say stress is affecting ALL of us to some degree.
Naturopathic doctors look at managing stress as a critical component of any therapeutic plan, especially those designed to support immune health. So now is the time to schedule in moments to decompress, and implement any practices you enjoy and can safely access to help manage stress levels: yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, and even incorporating a mindfulness or breathing app (there are many good ones available!) are all excellent ways to incorporate healthy downtime into your wellness routine.
Next, take a look at your diet and consider greatly reducing or avoiding sweets! We are just past Halloween, and all the candies and indulgences it provides however, those sweet treats will temporarily hinder your immune system for a few hours – making you more vulnerable to illness and infection – especially if you are consuming sweets throughout the day.
Finally, optimize your Vitamin D levels. While optimal serum levels of vitamin D 25-OH haven’t been established, likely because these vary based on stages of life, race, ethnicity, and genetics, we do know that low levels, less than 20 ng/mL are NOT supportive to bone, immune and overall health. The best source of vitamin D is through 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight exposure on the skin daily, avoiding over exposure and sunburn. There are various guidelines amongst countries and professional societies regarding supplementation. Many naturopathic doctors follow the Endocrine Society guidelines that state that most older and younger adults can safely take 400 to 1000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and that some adults might need 1,500 to 2,000 IU/ day of supplement vitamin D to maintain levels above 30 ng/mL. While screening for vitamin D3 is not recommended for those not at risk of deficiency, there are many at risk groups. According to the National Institute of Health, groups at risk for vitamin D deficiency include: breastfed infants, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, people with dark skin, people with conditions that limit fat absorption (ie celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, those who don’t consume dairy), people who are obese, and people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. This is a lot of at-risk people! Given the important role of vitamin D in immune support, if you are concerned about your risk, especially in these times, discussing testing and supplementation with your doctor appears prudent.
There is SO much that can be done, in addition to the preventative and common-sense safety measures being outlined. We offer many additional ways to help stay healthy in our webinar, Immune Support and Resilience – which is available for free when you donate to our fundraising campaign to license medically trained NDs in Virginia!
Spread the word, and let’s help our communities stay healthy over the holidays.