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It’s called “presenteeism” and for many companies and their employees, it’s worse than absenteeism in terms of lost productivity. When your sick coworker comes to the office coughing up a lung, they don’t generally get more work done. They usually just end up contaminating their offices for everyone else.

Todd Whitthorne, president of ACAP Health, is trying to do something about it. The Emmy-winning broadcaster and health expert has spent most of his adult life helping others to achieve optimum health. He wants to help stop “presenteeism.”

“When an employee is sick, his or her ability to be productive drops dramatically,” Whitthorne says. “The negative consequences for the organization doesn’t end with one sick employee; most of the time collective performance will suffer because the sick employee will pass on infectious illnesses to their colleagues and clients.”

Here are some of his suggestions to end the practice of sick people coming in to work.

1) Lead by Example: 

Managers set the standard. If they stay home when they are sick and encourage their employees to do the same, they will have a healthier office environment. A sick employee can be encouraged to have a coworker pick up the load, if necessary and adjustments can be made so that it’s fair to everyone.

2) Encourage 3-D daily:

Wellness benefits whether in the form of actually making immunity increasing supplements like Omega 3 and Vitamin D3 available for employees is one option; others are helping employees understand the importance of prioritizing their own health. Now that the Affordable Care Act is a reality, employees may be able to do more to help themselves when ill.

3) Utilize Technology: 

With all the technology available to today’s employees, there is always the option to work from home using Skype, and the various other technologies available. Employers can work with employees to work out viable solutions.

What foods are good for Vitamin D?

It’s hard to get enough D from food but the best sources are mushrooms (3 oz=400 IU), salmon (3.5 oz=360 IU), 1 cup of milk or soy milk (fortified)=100 IU, fortified breakfast cereal (40-50 IU), one large egg (25 IU).

 What about Chua Seed?

While Chia seeds are great nutrients (protein, fiber, B-vitamins, etc.) they don’t provide vitamin D.

How much Vitamin D should you take?

Most of us need at least 2,000 IU per day…some of us much more than that because there is a 6-fold variability in how we respond to D.

I wanted to ask any recommendation for how much sun I should get? I have systemic lupus and always have low iron and Vitamin D but was told the sun is not good for me. Yet I feel better when I’m in the sun? Please help.

Listen to your body.  The proper dose is very important.  You never want to get a sunburn but usually 10-20 minutes of sun exposure while wearing a bathing suit or shorts and a tank top will “fill your vitamin D bucket” pretty well.  Remember, the time of day, time of year, cloud cover, latitude (the further from the equator the less intense the sun), and skin color all play a role in how much D you will make.

Hello, I was just listening to the radio as you were explaining the Vitamin D, what is the logic with why it takes longer for people with darker skin to receive Vitamin D? Does that mean we have a higher chance of recieving skin cancer? And is that why we darken faster in the sun than lighter colored people?

All great questions! Generally the closer we live to the equator the darker our skin (think equatorial Africa or Panama).  That’s where the sun is most intense and most likely to burn our skin.  Darker skin is more protective.  As you get closer to the poles (think Northern Europe) people are lighter skinned.  The sun is much less intense up there so they can make (synthesize) vitamin D much more quickly (about 6 times faster).  It’s all part of a beautiful design but since most of us work and live inside and often wear sunscreen we just don’t get much sun exposure anymore.  Dark complected people generally have less risk of skin cancer than those with lighter skin.

Can you absorb too much Vitamin D?

Not from the sun.  Your body naturally makes what it needs then stops when you have enough.  It’s also VERY hard to get too much D from supplementation.  Vitamin D toxicity (too much) is when your blood level exceeds 150 ng/ml.  Large research studies indicate that 77% of Americans are insufficient (below 30 ng/ml), 90 of Mexican-Americans and 97% of non-Hispanic blacks.

What are symptoms of low Vitamin D?

Often it is chronic pain, weakened immunity, and poor life satisfaction.  Low D is related to 17 different cancers (colon, breast, prostate, etc.), diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, insomnia, arthritis, psoriasis, etc.

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Get Well Wednesday: Why You Shouldn’t Be At Work When You’re Sick  was originally published on