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The average adult catches between two to three colds per year. It's frustrating when you wake up in the morning with the early symptoms of a cold. You may experience a stuffy nose, sinus pressure, fatigue, sore throat, etc. Being that these are the early signs of a cold, it means you'll be sick for the next couple weeks. While there's no cure for the common cold, a new study indicates that vitamin D supplements can lower the risk of infection.

According to a study published in The British Medical Journal, taking vitamin D supplements offers a variety of benefits, some of which include stronger bones, better muscle reactions, and even protection from respiratory infections like the common cold.

Respiratory tract infections involve any bacterial or viral infection in the sinuses, throat, lungs or airways. They can last for up to a month, causing a wide range of adverse symptoms for the individual. Statistics show that at least 70% of the general population catches an acute respiratory infection every year. In the UK, about a quarter of the population seek medical treatment for such infections. They are responsible for 300,000 hospitalizations and 35,000 deaths in the UK each year, attesting to the severity of respiratory tract infections.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, however, believe that vitamin D supplements could be the key to protecting against colds and other upper respiratory tract infections. Researchers analyzed data from existing studies in which 11,000 individuals participated in. They concluded that vitamin D supplements can in fact help prevent acute respiratory infections, especially in individuals who aren't receiving enough vitamin D in their diets.

More specifically, researchers found that vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by 12%.

Of course, there are other ways to increase your intake of vitamin D, one of which is going outside. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, with just 15 minutes of direct exposure providing more than enough for your daily allowance. Sunlight doesn't necessary "emit" vitamin D, but instead it acts as a catalyst, telling our bodies to produce its own vitamin D.

The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses," said Professor Martineau, one of the study's lead authors and researchers. "Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound vitamin D deficiency in several countries."

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