Is Vitamin D a cold killer?
Cyclist with a cold
Cyclists are very fortunate when it comes to vitamin D. Long hours spent in the summer sun exposes our skin to UV rays, which in turn produces vitamin D.
The vitamin has many uses: it's an immune system regulator, it helps with the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphate (crucial for maintaining healthy bones), and some research has even show it can aid with brain functioning.
But probably the main benefit of vitamin D is its claimed protective properties against the common cold.
So as winter approaches and shorter days beckon, resulting in less time spent in the saddle, should we be investing in foods or supplements high in vitamin D? No, according to a significant study which was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association.
Over the course of 18 months, researchers gave vitamin D to 161 healthy adults and a dummy pill to another 161 adults. Every month the participants were asked about the number and severity of the upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) they had. The researchers found no significant difference between the two groups concluding that: "Added doses of vitamin D in healthy adults does not significantly reduce the incidences or severity of URTIs."
While colder months and limited daylight hours may lower the amount of time we can get out riding, it is not the low levels of vitamin D that cause the onset of colds. Taking vitamin D won't do you any harm, and can be used as a precaution, but the best way to avoid germs is simple: make sure you wash your hands regularly.
What do you think?
How do you avoid colds in the winter?
Fresh air, training, good diet and constitution. You can't avoid colds, just don't get stressed when you do get one!
Lots of fresh fruit and veg. Vitamin supplements and a zinc supplement. Any bug I do pick up I seem to burn off in 24 hours.
Staying on my bike and avoiding the Tube.