Vitamin D has made it into the news again today with the recommendation that bread and other 'staple' foods should be fortified with the vitamin to help prevent hundreds of thousands of cases of colds and flu each year... and Vitamin D has been shown to be more effective than the flu vaccine in preventing contraction of the flu.
Is this a good thing? Well, for starters I don't recommend anyone eat cheap sliced bread, wheat-based cereals or milk, which are the most likely foods to receive nutritional enrichment. But that's another story...!
While it is great to see understanding of the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels entering the mainstream - as well as the efficacy of the potentially more harmful than beneficial flu vaccine called into question! - as with ALL vitamins and minerals, there is no one size fits all.
We all need differing amounts of - ideally naturally-derived - nutrients, depending on our lifestyle and our genetically acquired ability to absorb and metabolise them. As such, a blanket approach to administration of supplements - especially synthetic versions - is not the best way forward.
As with everything in life, too much of a good thing can become decidedly negative and we definitely know that to be true of Vitamin D.
For one thing, there is no mention of the form of Vitamin D that was trialled or which form they propose to put in food - will it be the D2 (inactive) or D3 (active) form? The first needs converting and some people are unfortunately not particularly good at doing this.
And let's not forget that the immune system requires far more nutrients than just Vitamin D3 to function optimally. Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc, magnesium, sufficient friendly (probiotic) bacteria... these and more are all essential raw materials to prime our highly complex and impressive immune systems for fighting infection. Plus, Vitamin D3 works with Vitamin A and Vitamin K2 to make sure calcium is deposited in the bones and teeth rather than the soft tissues, such as the arteries and kidneys - where it can cause serious harm. They work together in synergy and it is not a good idea to elevate levels of one without either of the others.
If you think you might benefit from supplementing with additional Vitamin D3 please, please, please get your (blood) serum levels TESTED first. If your GP won't do it then you can order an at-home finger prick test kit from vitamindtest.org.uk for £28 and get your results delivered to you in a week. Either way, it is always best to work with a trained professional when trying to correct any deficiencies. There is so much conflicting information out there and so many supplements on offer that it is hard to know how to isolate the facts from fictions. And, being so biochemically unique, we can't always anticipate how we may respond to any medical intervention - natural or otherwise. If in doubt, please seek help.