Health Buzz: Extra Vitamin D Doesn't Prevent Colds, Study Says

How to be happier at home: tips from Gretchen Rubin; wrestling with their weight ... literally

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Study: Extra Vitamin D Won't Help Ward off the Common Cold

Think you can ward off a nasty cold with vitamin D? That's unlikely, according to a study released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "In the healthy adult population, vitamin D will not prevent or reduce the severity of common colds," lead author, David Murdoch, head of pathology at New Zealand's University of Otago, told HealthDay. Although some observational studies have suggested that people with higher vitamin D levels catch fewer colds, Murdoch said there's no proof that any supplements work as preventives. "We need evidence from rigorous studies—like ours—before making claims about any nutritional supplement's potential to prevent colds," he added. How rigorous was the new vitamin D study? Murdoch and his colleagues recruited 300 healthy adults who had normal vitamin D levels at the start of the study. Half of the participants took vitamin D supplements for 18 months, and the other half took placebo tablets. The vitamin D group averaged 3.7 colds during the study, and the placebo group averaged 3.8. For both groups, the cold lasted about 12 days.

While vitamin D didn't shield study participants against the common cold, there are other measures you can take to avoid it: Wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, and avoid being near people who are sick.

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  • How to Be Happier At Home: Tips from Gretchen Rubin

    On a New York City bus one rainy morning, Gretchen Rubin looked through its window onto her magical Manhattan life, brimming with love for her husband, two daughters, and writing career and wondered: Why wasn't she enjoying it more? Why wasn't she happier or living up to her noblest ideals?

    That line of questions, several years ago, prompted her to pen the bestselling book, The Happiness Project, in which Rubin documents with painstaking analysis (she's a former lawyer, after all) the effort to savor her life, inspiring countless fans to create more contentment.

    Her latest book, Happier at Home, had similarly humble beginnings. Rubin was unloading the dishwasher when she felt flooded with a sense of homesickness, a nostalgia for what was already happening in her midst: the sounds of her girls playing "restaurant" and her husband watching golf on TV.

    Overcome with love for her home and a revelation of its centrality in life, Rubin decided to do what it is she does: combine exhaustive research with creative thinking in the art of conquering a challenge. In this case, Rubin plumbs the depth of home life to determine how to enhance it, to feel more "at home, at home," as she puts it. [Read more: How to Be Happier At Home: Tips from Gretchen Rubin]

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    • Wrestling With Their Weight ... Literally

      "My friend just told me that he has to lose 10 pounds by next week … isn't that unhealthy?" asked my 17-year-old son. Perplexed and troubled, he went on to say that unless his friend "starved" himself, he wouldn't "make his weight" for his wrestling team, writes U.S. News blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix.

      Unfortunately, this is not atypical. Anywhere from one-quarter to two-thirds of high school wrestlers use fasting, excessive exercise, unbalanced diets, and voluntary dehydration as techniques to help them achieve a fighting weight, according to some estimates. Ironically, these behaviors only sap athletes of the strength and energy needed to compete in this sport—and they're particularly dangerous for still-growing teens, who demand calories to fuel both mind and body. Furthermore, an improper diet can have a profoundly negative impact on learning and focusing at a time when students can barely afford to divert their attention from college applications and SAT's to rigorous after-school workouts and weekend tournaments.

      In his 2001 report published in Contemporary Pediatrics, "Aiming for Healthy Weight for Wrestlers and Other Athletes," the late Vito Perriello, Jr., a pediatrician and pioneer in the field of sports medicine, wrote that participants of "weight-sensitive sports" are likelier to engage in unhealthy eating practices than are other athletes. Wrestlers in particular "feel that to succeed they must punish themselves in order to make themselves tougher," wrote Perriello, adding that they think they'll also "gain an advantage by competing at a lower weight." However, studies have determined that wrestling performance is optimal at one's ideal weight versus a lower weight, since the latter could cause weakness and reduced endurance. [Read more: Wrestling With Their Weight ... Literally]