The colder months see an increase in deaths and many people suffer from colds, the flu and other illnesses. This is partly due to our immune systems not working as effectively as they do at other times of the year.
Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and if you spend a lot of time cooped up indoors during the winter, your vitamin D levels can drop. This can have a big impact on your immune system as vitamin D is needed to help fight bacteria and viruses, stop infection and reduce inflammation.In the winter of 2014/2015 there were an estimated 43,900 more deaths than usual in England and Wales, with many experts blaming the rise on more people contracting flu. Claudia Wells, head of mortality statistics at the Office for National Statistics, told the Press Association when the figures were released: “While the cold temperature is a factor, most of last winter was warmer than average. A major cause behind the rise was the flu virus, with estimates showing that the flu vaccine was not as effective this winter compared to previous years."1
Three ways to boosting your immunity
- Practicing good hygiene is important all year round, but especially when temperatures drop. Covering your mouth when you cough, using a hanky or tissue when you sneeze and washing your hands regularly can help stop germs being spread.
- Take a daily vitamin D supplement to make sure your immune system has what it needs to function well. You should also make sure you’re eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and consider taking multivitamins.
- Reduce your chances of contracting the flu by having the flu vaccine. If you have children aged six months or older, they can have it too.