Wake up and shine and get a little of sunshine!

Cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. And we know that there are no antibiotics for viral infections and hence have no quick shots. Cold brings miserable days for many of us. You can’t take a leave off from your school or office with the excuse of having a common cold. At the same time, you cannot work comfortably with a stuffy head, runny nose and lots of sneezing. Cold can go on for a week or more and demands a lot of rest. You try a lot of remedies and swallow a couple of tablets and the infection would fade away very slowly.

Cold, Vitamin D and Sun

Normally, cold is seasonal though it has its sway during winter days. Winter is a month of darkness, chill, snow balling, skating and colds. One of the reasons why we catch a cold during winter days is the cold, damp weather inside and outside. Viruses thrive comfortably in low humidity. The other important reason for the frequency of common cold during winter is the lack of sunlight.  We get our vitamin D mostly from sunshine. And winter is a time when most people are deficient in Vitamin D, otherwise called as sunshine vitamin. It is the UV rays from the sun that help our body to synthesize the Vitamin D necessary for our body. The rest of the vitamin is derived from foods like milk, bread, tuna, eggs, fortified margarines and cereals. Vitamin D deficiencies are ever on the increase especially in those who lack exposure to sun and eat very less of these food items.

What are the risks?

Low levels of vitamin D not only contributes to common cold and flu, it also triggers off lung diseases like asthma and emphysema. People with this deficiency are more susceptible to respiratory infections than others. Multiple Slerocis is the most common disabling neurological condition and Vitamin D deficient young adults are at a risk of developing it.

Who is at risk?

Those of the northern latitude hardly see the sun and suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. More than the sun  it is the lack of a balanced diet that is the culprit for some. Breastfed infants may lack Vitamin D while infants who take milk substitutes may get insufficient Vitamins. Undernourished people, people with liver or kidney disease and those under specific medications may also lack D vitamins.

How much is too much?

Liver is a great source of vitamin D. But having too much of Vitamin D rich foods is harmful for the bones. The recommended quantity per day is 25 micrograms or less for a healthy life. However, the dosage differs with age and medical conditions of the person. Excess intake of Vitamin D cause calcification of bones and of soft tissue, headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, kidney stones, polyuria, polydipsia and other serious health hazards.

Preventing cold in winter days

  • Get adequate sleep. A goodnight’s sleep boosts your immunity levels.
  • Don’t shun away the sun. Make sure to get a little bit of sun especially during winter.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Avoid physical contact with people suffering from cold. Run away from the sneezes and coughs.
  • Wash your hands well before you eat. Use hand sanitizers when needed.
  • Take lots of fluids.
  • Take rest!
  • Vitamin C, zinc lozenges, goldenseal and echinacea may come in handy.
  • Garlic or odorless garlic capsules are good to fight off common cold.


-Aparna K V