How to Prevent the Flu! NOT Vit C! The Vitamin D Story Continues

October 15, 2006

How to Prevent the Flu!  NOT Vit C!  The Vitamin D Story Continues 

 Competency # 17: Knowing About Vit D                          ReferenceEpidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6) 1129-40 

 This is really beating a drum again and again but now is the time.  We are all getting news about how to get flu shots and we are all planning on how to get ready for an epidemic of avian flu.  And this last week I found an article about Vit D and influenza. We have known for years that influenza has a seasonal trend.  It occurs more in winter.  But in the tropics, influenza occurs more during the rainy season.  Hmmm.   We also know that kids with rickets (Vit D deficiency in its extreme form) get tons of infections.  And we know that the frail elderly die in winter from all sorts of causes, but that it all peaks with the flu epidemic each year. 

 The story to tell below is by Dr. J Cannell who is a psychiatrist in a prison for the criminally insane.  He had taken an interest in Vit D several years ago and, recognizing that his patients didn’t get any sunshine and had very low levels of Vit D in their blood, started his patients on 2000 Units a day.  Last year, his prison had an epidemic of flu.  His ward didn’t get sick!  He was amazed. This is unproven yet by standard clinical trials.  The purpose of this email is to get my readers information that is at the cutting edge.  

These are the questions he asks in his article that would all be neatly answered by Vit D turning on your immune system.  From last week, we know that to be true.  And we know how to measure the chemical: cathelicidin.   It works on tuberculosis in the laboratory.   Does it work on flu too? 

 1. Why the flu predictably occurs in the months following the winter solstice, when vitamin D levels are at their lowest, 

 2. Why it disappears in the months following the summer solstice, 

 3. Why influenza is more common in the tropics during the rainy season, 

 4. Why the cold and rainy weather associated with El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which drives people indoors and lowers vitamin D blood levels, is associated with influenza,  

5. Why the incidence of influenza is inversely correlated with outdoor temperatures, 

 6. Why children exposed to sunlight are less likely to get colds, 

 7. Why cod liver oil (which contains vitamin D) reduces the incidence of viral respiratory infections, 

 8. Why Russian scientists found that vitamin D-producing UVB lamps reduced colds and flu in schoolchildren and factory workers, 

 9. Why Russian scientists found that volunteers, deliberately infected with a weakened flu virus - first in the summer and then again in the winter - show significantly different clinical courses in the different seasons, 

 10. Why the elderly who live in countries with high vitamin D consumption, like Norway, are less likely to die in the winter, 

 11. Why children with vitamin D deficiency and rickets suffer from frequent respiratory infections, 

 12. Why an observant physician (Rehman), who gave high doses of vitamin D to children who were constantly sick from colds and the flu, found the treated children were suddenly free from infection, 

 13. Why the elderly are so much more likely to die from heart attacks in the winter rather than in the summer, 

 14. Why African Americans, with their low vitamin D blood levels, are more likely to die from influenza and pneumonia than Caucasians are. 

 WWW:  What Will Work for Me?  I took Vit D last winter for the first time.  I just started this week again for this year.  I’m taking 2,000 U a day: two  800 U tablets of Vit D and a multivitamin with another 400.  If I start getting a cold this year, I just might add 3-5 more tabs of Vitamin D instead of Vitamin C.  Linus Pauling might have been right, if he had only moved up one letter in the alphabet from C to D.  I’m betting the clinical trials will prove it.  I share this information with you because I believe 2000 U a day is so safe, the benefits for all of us far outweigh any conceivable risk.  

This column was written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI, (262-784-5300)