I admit it. When my doctor asks if I would like a flu shot, I shake my head no. I have my reasons. They are part bravado, "I'm a man and don't need no stinking flu shots" and part cowardice. I don't like to get shots. I didn't say they were good reasons . . .
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the flu kills up to 49,000 Americans each year and hospitalizes more than 200,000. I'm guessing that statistically half of those people would be men, so it looks like men need flu shots. But I could always get out and play golf and get more sun because I know that I could probably soak up enough vitamin D to boost my immune system and keep the flu away.
Adrian Gombart, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Principal Investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute says, "There's a lot of evidence from research in the lab that there may be a reason to believe vitamin D could help fight off flu infection." Continuing, "I would think of it this way: If you have sufficient vitamin D, you're going to have an optimal immune response," Gombart points out. "That may reduce rates of infection. It also may reduce the severity of the infection. Individuals may be sick, but maybe not as severely. Or may just not get sick. We can't really say at this point."
Here in the Pacific Northwest I would have to golf naked all winter to get almost any vitamin D from the sun and plus I'm a little lazy and don't like to be uncomfortable. I may have to take more than a multiple vitamin. Gombart reveals, "It seems like vitamin D does everything! It's primarily known for its importance in bone growth-making strong bones and strong teeth by maintaining proper calcium levels in our blood through absorption from the gut. But it's becoming quite clear that deficiencies in vitamin D lead to a number of diseases. Vitamin D is involved in a lot of important processes in the body, including the immune system, and recent studies show the importance of vitamin D in cardiovascular health." I seemed to be finding more reasons for taking vitamin D and not getting a flu shot.
I'm easily swayed, but I was still not convinced. I thought I could use some other flu fighting steps like hand sanitizers . . . or improve my immune system by getting more sleep, or having more sex, or getting a massage, or eating more immune boosting foods like chicken soup, or yogurt; getting more soluble fiber with citrus fruits, apples, carrots, beans and oats/oatmeal (like from Roman Meal); and drinking green tea. I should be doing all these things anyway and then I read the news that getting vaccinated for the flu cuts risk for a heart attack or stroke by up to 50 percent. This was on most of the TV news programs. They cited two studies presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
I think I'll get some extra vitamin D supplements, eat more immune system friendly foods, and consider all the other options for fighting the flu. As they say, "It wouldn't hurt." But I'm resigned. I'll bite the bullet and get the shot that I knew I needed anyway, but didn't want.
c. 2013 - Live2AgeWell.com
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