South Africa is experiencing one of its coldest winters due to global warming and experts recommend taking special precautions to prevent cold exposure and to boost immunity.
Research shows that although the global temperature is rising, climate systems that drive anomalously cold weather will continue to cause cold snaps increasing the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold-related illnesses such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Experts recommend that South Africans should reduce the risk of cold exposure and stress by keeping as warm as possible and staying informed on the latest weather warnings and updates.
Health expert Vanessa Ascencao said that the risk of vitamin D deficiency and infections are much higher in winter due to reduced sun exposure and a study has shown that supplementing with vitamin D3 during winter can help to support the immune system and fight off infections such as colds and flu.
Vitamin D helps to absorb phosphate and calcium in the body which is essential for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. It also reduces inflammation, improves gut health, and protects against respiratory infections but natural food sources are limited.
Studies show that low vitamin D levels were prevalent in 82 percent of Covid-19 patients and contributed to a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and severe symptoms. In contrast, other studies have shown the benefits of vitamin D in protecting against heart attacks, diabetes, dementia, multiple sclerosis, and even cancer.
Countries like the UK and Poland have implemented strategies for preventing and treating vitamin D deficiency, including supplementation during autumn and winter. While data remains limited in SA, vitamin D deficiency is a growing health concern due to increased sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy eating, and high obesity.
Research shows that around 63 percent of black South Africans, 36 percent of coloured South Africans, and 33 percent of infants are deficient while Africa is estimated to have the highest frequency of severe deficiency.
“The immune system needs balance and harmony among all systems to function effectively and vitamin D helps to modulate innate and adaptive immune responses. BetterYou DLux oral spray can help optimise vitamin D levels fast via the inner cheek and has been clinically proven to have higher absorption than tablets and capsules,” said Ascencao.
“In addition, ensure a well-balanced diet that includes lots of colourful fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, healthy fats, fatty fish, and lean protein. Drink lots of water and avoid sugar and processed foods. Spend more time outdoors in the sun, exercise regularly, manage stress, and prioritise getting good quality sleep,” Ascencao added.