How Do You Catch a Cold?
The most common way cold viruses are spread is not from being around coughing or sneezing, or walking barefoot in the rain, but rather from hand-to-hand contact. For instance, someone with a cold blows their nose then shakes your hand or touches surfaces that you also touch. Cold viruses can live on pens, computer keyboards, coffee mugs, and other objects for hours, so it’s easy to come into contact with such viruses during daily life.However, the key to remember is that just being exposed to a cold virus does not have to mean that you’ll catch a cold. If your immune system is operating at its peak, it should actually be quite easy for you to fend off the virus without ever getting sick. On the other hand, if your immune system is impaired, it’s akin to having an open-door policy for viruses—they’ll easily take hold in your body. So the simple and short answer is, you catch a cold due to a poorly functioning immune system. There are many causes of a weakened immune system, but the more common factors are:
- Eating too much sugar and too many grains
- Not getting enough rest
- Ineffectively managing emotional stresses in your daily life
- Vitamin D deficiency, as discussed below
- Any combination of the above
Vitamin D Deficiency: Another Reason You May ‘Catch’ a Cold
Research has confirmed that “catching” colds and flu may actually be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a potent antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Suboptimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.In the largest and most nationally represented study of its kind to date, involving about 19,000 Americans, people with the lowest vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu — and the risk was even greater for those with chronic respiratory disorders like asthma. At least five additional studies also show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels.The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. Even though for many of us, this just isn’t practical during the winter, every effort should be made to attain vitamin D from UVB exposure as there are many additional benefits from this route other than vitamin D. The next best option to sunlight is the use of a safe indoor tanning device. If neither natural nor artificial sunlight is an option, then using an oral vitamin D3 supplement is acceptable—just beware that mounting evidence suggests supplements cannot compare to sun exposure, as UV radiation provides a number of health benefits you cannot get from a supplement.Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. This recommendation also includes children, the elderly, and pregnant women.However, keep in mind that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you’re exposed to on a regular basis.