Flu Vaccine versus Innate Immunity from Vitamin D

The question:  Is the flu a seasonal disease brought on by lack of exposure to sunshine during the winter or more specifically a reduction in vitamin D?  As I have discussed in previous posts, the incidence of the flu has been down this year, although, just in the past week or so there has been an increase of flu complaints.  However, the outpatient visits for influenza-like illness is still below baseline which is very unusual for this time of year.  I have marked the CDC graph with a red x showing week 8.  Last year week 8 was a peak at just below five percent.  According to my trend lines, we should be at a peak for this year.  The CDC will say it is most likely because of their efforts in getting people to take the vaccine. However, I believe there is a vitamin D component that is creating immunity during the winter months.  It has been more than a year or sixty weeks since we were above the baseline of 2.5 percent.  Consider the increase in usage of supplemental vitamin D as shown by the survey results from ConsumerLab.com.

Increase in Vitamin D Supplementation

I have marked with a red x the projected usage of supplemental vitamin D for 2011.  We should see this curve flatten over the next several years, as increase in use starts to saturate the population.  This means that more than sixty percent of the population is now supplementing with vitamin D.  I suspect the manufacturers of cold remedies can tell you a lot more about how during the winter of 2011-2012, the use of otc cold medicines was off significantly.  With increase use of vitamin D, the drop off of the flu is one of the first things you would expect to see as the serum levels of vitamin D increases in the population.  Small amounts of vitamin D have a significant impact on immunity toward viruses.  I have reported before in this blog that I had not had a cold since 2004 when I started taking vitamin D.  I would like to report that I had my first runny nose since 2004 two weeks ago and it lasted about thirty-six hours.  I did increase my intake of vitamin D and vitamin C.

How effective is the vaccine for the flu.  We have seen in past years that it is not very effective at all.  If you think about vaccines that are effective, you do not have to repeat the vaccine every year.  Think about polio and small pox, both viruses.  You were vaccinated once and that was it.  The vaccine for the flu is encouraged to be taken every year even if the composition of viruses has not been changed in the vaccine.  IF vaccines are effective, there is no need to repeat EVERY YEAR.  I think the better solution is to make your innate immune system believe that it is summertime all year round.

My hat is off to Dr. John Cannell, Vitamin D Council, for his efforts in publishing about vitamin D and the flu.  Dr. Cannell, I believe your work has been effective.  The above is not a scientific approach, but just a look at the trends.  I may be wrong, but only several years of below baseline will tell.  – Pandemic Survivor

Venus Williams Poor Understanding of Nutrition Leads to Sjogren’s

I love tennis.  It is my sport of choice when I am not playing golf.  This year I have had an exciting time watching John Isner rising to the top of the tennis ranks.  What an athlete! – have you seen him shoot a basketball?  I love Isnerball – a unique approach to tennis that can only be used by a six foot ten inch athlete with an exceptional serve.  Now I am sad that another of my favorites, Venus Williams, has had to retire from the US Open because of Sjogren’s (pronounced sow-grins) syndrome.

The physical nature of tennis is extreme.  Nutritional conditioning of the tennis professional is of prime importance, especially those things that affect the energy systems as vitamin D, magnesium, and iodine.  The reason that I list these as primary is the vitamin D is not fully accepted by medical practice and the magnesium and iodine are difficult to measure and thus not used as markers for poor nutrition.

So how can I make this claim about Venus and her diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome?  It has been well established by research that the majority of autoimmune diseases are a reflection of the lack of the body’s primary weapon for immunity – vitamin D3.  Here is a paper that was published in 1990 from research in Denmark: “Abnormal Vitamin D metabolism in patients with Sjogren’s syndrome” -K Muller .  The really good thing about this study was that the levels of 25(OH)D3 and 25(OH)D2 were both measured.  Discovered was the patients with the autoimmune disease had a significantly lower level of 25(OH)D3.  In fact, 25(OH)D3 could not even be measured in nine of the patients.  At the end of the discussion the author’s make this statement – “It is unclear whether the changed vitamin D3 metabolism is related to the immunopathology of this disease or is merely an epiphenomenon.”  Based on research in the twenty one years since this publication, it is clear that low vitamin D3 levels are the culprit.

How could a person who spends a significant amount of time in the sun be vitamin D deficient?  Dark skin tone and the use of sunscreen?  This is the issue and the IOM would say that she is not if her level of the storage form is 20 ng/ml or more.  Venus is just one of millions that are now in their twenties and thirties that are showing chronic disease from the fear of the sun touted for the last fifty years.  We now know that for health and great sport performance that 25(OH) D3 needs to be above 60 ng/ml.  I sincerely hope that Venus connects with a professional medical person like Dr. John Cannell, Vitamin D Council, and develops an understanding of the nutrition that she needs to come back to the sport.  I believe Dr. Cannell has an up and coming book on vitamin D sports nutrition.  If Venus does this, then we can expect to see her at the Australian Open in January.

If she gives in to the normal line of treatment, then who knows what the results will be.  The first course of action is a drug that is used to treat malaria, hydroxychloroquine.  I find this just sad because of the side effects.  Venus, take some vitamin D3 and drink some quinine or tonic water, supplement with magnesium and iodine and get back on the courts.

John Isner, if you are reading this then get your vitamin D level tested.  I look forward to you winning a couple of majors real soon.  I love Isnerball! – pandemic survivor.

Hepatitis C Cured?

And another virus bites the dust.  Hepatitis C is a serious virus that infects the liver and can cause scarring, cirrhosis, and even cancer of the liver.  It is a serious disease with only about a 50% cure rate.  Liver failures that result in a liver transplant will typically still have the disease.

Before I jump right into the news story let’s consider an old salty warrior that I know that spent 25 years in the military.  He had multiple tours in Vietnam and spent his career in locations all over the world.  He has suffered many diseases including tuberculosis that in combination of the drugs that were used to cure the TB had a serious negative impact on his liver and his lung capacity.  After being on vitamin D3 at about 6000 IU per day for two years his liver markers are now completely normal.  His lung capacity has also returned to normal.  So what are we to make of this?  I know that my own liver markers were way out of normal and returned to normal after the first year on vitamin D.

Evidently vitamin D is really good for your liver!

This story was reported in Empowher which is a women’s health online site.  In the test that was discuss patients were given vitamin D in a test that was to show the difference in interferon treatments.  At the 12th week of treatment the vitamin D group was 96% HCV RNA negative as compared to the control group which was 48% HCV RNA negative.  “Vitamin D Boost Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C”

This is really good news for people that are suffering from liver disease as it may be that vitamin D has a significant impact on recovery of the liver both from disease and abuse by drugs and alcohol.  Who knows maybe it could even help those people that have taken too much acetaminophen.  In any case there is no reason for people to die that are not vitamin D replete.  Why take the chance of not taking vitamin D when the benefits could be so great and there is no down side.

Here is the research from the Vitamin D Council on liver function and vitamin D. Also on liver cancer.

Get REPLETE!  There are no negative side effects to having enough vitamin D  – Pandemic Survivor

H1N1 and Vitamin D

H1N1 and Vitamin D

It seems to be medical fact that we get more cases of the flu in the winter than in the summer.  I have never had the flu in the summer or personally know anyone that has had the flu in the summer.  However, everyone that I know has had the flu in the winter.  It only seems logical that there is a seasonal occurrence that is driving this real phenomenon.

Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council has designated a complete newsletter to the understanding back May, 2009, H1N1 Flu and Vitamin D.  I referred to this newsletter in my first article on the flu and vitamin D, Another Pandemic, H1N1, Protect Yourself. Now Dr. Cannell gives us an update about children in his September 2009 Newsletter and how it is that children that are deficient with vitamin D are most likely at risk of getting the flu.  Vitamin D Studies of Interest

I am totally with Dr.  Cannell.  How can we simply just stand by and watch children suffer from this disease when we know that more than fifty to seventy percent of children are deficient depending  on which study you chose to read.  If you have children, be sure to keep them replete in vitamin D by following Dr. Cannell directions in this October 2008 newsletter Vitamin D in Pediatrics. Under vitamin D and dosage he states that in general that children need about 1000 IU of D3 for every 25 lbs of body weight per day.  I found this amount to be effective in adults as well.  I weigh 235 lbs and take 10,000 IU each day that I do not go into the sun and every day between the end of September and the end of March when we are in ‘vitamin D winter’.

So what are our country and the health organizations doing about this vitamin D deficiency and the relation to the flu?  Not much!  There is hope however as the Public Health Agency of Canada has decided to take the vitamin D level of people having the H1N1 virus.  This is really encouraging as Canada takes its lead for supplementations levels from the Institute of Medicine, IOM, here in the US.  If Canada confirms this finding that low levels of vitamin D are significant in relation to the flu then maybe the US will take action.  But here again, I am with Dr. Cannell, how many children have to die before we stop depending on just acquired immunity through flu shots and build our innate immunity through doing what is natural to us.  We must remember that the US is slow to act as the Canadian Cancer Institute requested all Canadians take a minimum of 1000 IU of D3 per day and the US did not follow.

You may read the story on the website of the Vitamin D Society of Canada:  http://www.vitamindsociety.org/

Story from the Globe and Mail.  http://www.vitamindsociety.org/news_article.php?id=26

The story broke here in the US by Nutraingrediants-usa.com and emaxhealth.com:  http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Canada-examines-vitamin-D-for-swine-flu-protection

http://www.emaxhealth.com/1275/83/33165/vitamin-d-might-protect-against-h1n1-flu.html

And then there is this article in how the US should follow Canada’s lead from the Health Sciences Institute in Baltimore:  http://hsibaltimore.com/2009/08/24/h1n1-prevention/

You know the thing that is most interesting is one of the references that is driving the Canadian study is a report from 1946 that shows evidence that persons with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have the flu.  Why have we waited so long to investigate!!??

On the heels of this comes the study from Oregon State University that states that primates have kept the vitamin D innate immunity system in place for 60 million years!  Here is the story, “Key feature of immune system survived in humans, other primates for 60 million years”, from Eurek Alert.  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-08/osu-kfo081809.php

Now what pops into my mind as I read this is Linus Pauling’s writings on vitamin C.  It was very clear that only primates and guinea pigs do not make their own vitamin C.  So why is it that the vitamin D immune system has survived in primates and not other mammals?  Maybe this is the system that has taken the place of the vitamin C system in primates.  So what do we do about it?  We tell people for the last fifty years to get out of the sun!!!!  I know that this may be somewhat of a leap, but I do not think it is much of one considering the research on vitamin D immunity.

You should read again this paragraph about vitamin D immunity from my post, A Tale of Two Women:  “Vitamin D3, it seems works, along several pathways to help heal disease.  Number one it helps at a genetic level to tell immature tumor cells that they are just that and to stop growing or cellular apoptosis. The D3 also helps the blood supply network that is feeding the tumor to stop growing from a genetic level because this is not the normal design of the body or angiogenesis.  Also it raises the level of innate immunity so the body develops appropriate defensins such as cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides, phagocytes, and neutrofil granulocites that help destroy and adsorb ‘bad cells’ and ‘foreign bodies’ in the blood system.  There is also an aid to T-cell regulation in this complex system of immunity.  And if you are taking chemo one of the problems is thrombosis and vitamin D3 helps to control this issue as well.”  What this paragraph says is that vitamin D raises the innate immune system to fight all pathogens including viruses.  This reminds me that I need to do a post on the immune system and vitamin D.  There is really some fascinating research out there – coming soon.

So maybe the true magic in healing comes from a balance of giving the body what it needs.  I believe that Dr. Cannell and Dr. Pauling are both correct and that in primates that vitamin D is a greater fighter of viruses than vitamin C.  This may be just the opposite for non-primate mammals where vitamin C immune system is more important than the vitamin D system. Non-primates make their own vitamin C and primates and guinea pigs do not make vitamin C.  This article from WebMD seems to support my understanding:  http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20090223/low-vitamin-d-levels-linked-to-colds You know Dr. Pauling was reported to have taken between 12 grams to 20 grams of vitamin C per day.  His contention was that the less colds and other infections that you have the longer you live.  He lived to be 93.  Imagine how long he may have lived if he had taken 5 to 10 thousand IU’s of D3 as well.  What a headache that we may cause for government to solve in a population of healthy ‘really’ old people!!!  I am sure that as soon as the government makes a proclamation to take more vitamin D that the retirement age will be raised at least 10 years.

Anyway, what should we do for ourselves and our children.  Be sure that they get enough of vitamin C and vitamin D this winter and I suspect if you do this we will have many happy endings.

Go into the sun this winter through supplementation!!!!!!!!!!!   Pandemic Survivor