The Vitamin Kid

Avoiding bad medicine and finding non-toxic treatments that actually work

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Location: Ankeny, Iowa, United States

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Possibly lifesaving? Vitamin D and flu immunity

Americans suffer from an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, especially in wintertime. Most people will be outdoors on a regular basis in the summertime -- possibly enough to make sufficient endogenous vitamin D. But what about next fall and winter?

J.J. Cannell describes his hospital days as a doctor in the midst of a flu breackout. His comments and subsequent research show that vitamin D may be vital as preventive and treatment for infections:

"As I am now a psychiatrist, and no longer a general practitioner, I was not directly involved in fighting the influenza epidemic in our hospital. However, our internal medicine specialists worked overtime as they diagnosed and treated a rapidly increasing number of stricken patients. Our Chief Medical Officer quarantined one ward after another as more and more patients were gripped with the chills, fever, cough, and severe body aches that typifies the clinical presentation of influenza A...

"I guess our hospital was under luckier stars as only about 12% of our patients were infected and no one died. However, as the epidemic progressed, I noticed something unusual. First, the ward below mine was infected, and then the ward on my right, left, and across the hall - but no patients on my ward became ill. My patients had intermingled with patients from infected wards before the quarantines. The nurses on my unit cross-covered on infected wards. Surely, my patients were exposed to the influenza A virus. How did my patients escape infection from what some think is the most infectious of all the respiratory viruses?

"...All of the patients on my ward had been taking 2,000 units of vitamin D every day for several months or longer. Could that be the reason none of my patients caught the flu? I then contacted professors Reinhold Vieth and Ed Giovannucci and told them of my observations. They immediately advised me to collect data from all the patients in the hospital on 2,000 units of vitamin D, not just the ones on my ward, to see if the results were statistically significant. It turns out that the observations on my ward alone were of borderline statistical significance and could have been due to chance alone. Administrators at our hospital agreed, and are still attempting to collect data from all the patients in the hospital on 2,000 or more units of vitamin D at the time of the epidemic."

Read more of his subsequent experience and research at Medical News Today.

"We have only recently learned how vitamin D increases production of antimicrobial peptides while simultaneously preventing the immune system from releasing too many inflammatory cells, called chemokines and cytokines, into infected lung tissue. "

In other words, vitamin D helps the body produce its own antibiotic, and it also helps protect against the body's excess inflammatory reaction against the flu virus -- a reaction that can be fatal. The effect of vitamin D on the new Mexican Flu virus (H1N1) has not been specifically studied, but there is no reason to think that vitamin D will not have the same effect on this flu as it has on other viruses and infections.

I am personally well-stocked on vitamin D. I think the easiest and least expensive way to take vitamin D supplements is Carlson Labs liquid Vitamin D drops. I will be buying these once I use up the pills I currently take. Three drops would provide the full 5000 IU wintertime physiological dose. For summer, depending on how much sun you get, you might not need any supplement at all. If any of us starts showing signs of flu, I will immediately start a 3-day course of 2000 IU/kilogram per day. Since I am approximately 60 kilos, that would be 60 x 2000 daily (sixty drops of the liquid). I am not a doctor, nor am I recommending this for anyone except my own family. Do your own research, make your own choices.