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Vitamin D and the Prevention of Influenza

November 3rd, 2010

One FLU Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Vitamin D and the Prevention of Influenza. 

Flu Season...again.

We are again entering that dreaded “flu season.” It is dreaded because many of us, including our families, are at risk for the suffering and serious complications associated with influenza virus infection and the resultant loss of work and school. 

Was the H1N1 Vaccine a Hoax?Read on to learn how Vitamin D is a wonderful, wholesome way to give your body the strength it needs to guard against the Flu...but first, some important and relevant questions must be asked:

Flu Pandemic Fraud

Last year (2009) we were lead to believe there was an H1N1 flu pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and were told to get our vaccinations or else thousands would die worldwide. 

  • Did you know there never was an H1N1 pandemic? In fact, the H1N1 virus claimed only about a third of those killed every year by ordinary seasonal flu. As was described by Sarah Boseley in a December, 2009 article appearing in The Gaurdian.uk.co, the “pandemic” was not much more than any other flu season with the majority of deaths occurring in the elderly due to the common respiratory complications associated with the flu. Hundreds of thousands of people did not die from the pandemic as was repeatedly warned by the WHO.
  • Did you know the 2009 H1N1 pandemic is now being referred to as “the H1N1 pandemic fraud of 2009” by the Council of Europe's Health Commission?
  • Did you know the WHO is being investigated by the European Nations for its political and financial ties to the drug companies responsible for producing the H1N1 vaccines? According to Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, president of the Council of Europe's Health Commission, a number of key advisors urging the WHO to declare a pandemic received direct financial compensation from the very same vaccine manufacturers set to receive a windfall of profits from the pandemic announcement. Through all of this, the WHO refused to disclose any conflicts of interests between its top advisors and the drug companies who would financially benefit from its decisions.
  • Did you know five of the 15 specialists who sat on the emergency committee of the WHO had received funding from pharmaceutical giants, or were linked to them through their research? Evidence has also emerged that 11 of the 20 members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which advised the British Government on swine flu, had done work for the pharmaceutical industry or were linked to it through their universities.
  • Did you know there were enormous profits realized by drug companies from the sale of H1N1 and yearly flu vaccines last year? Evidence suggests members of the WHO may well have had an incentive to declare a pandemic. Quoting Dalia Fahmy from an October 14th, 2009 article appearing in ABC News/Money, “Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market.” Corporations and organizations you have trusted are cashing in on your panic and fear.

And the point is...

All of this political and financial investment bias and "shady interests" have obscured and upstaged some very important information about what may cause the so called “flu season” and how you can safely and easily prevent the flu and its complications for yourself and your family quite inexpensively. 

Vitamin D and the Flu

Vitamin DDid you know vitamin D(3) supplementation is a simple, cheap, and safe way of preventing the flu and its complications that is being scientifically researched and recognized but not readily promoted?

It is now becoming clear through published medical studies in the scientific literature that:

  • Declining serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D seen in the fall and winter months, as distance increases from the equator, is appearing to be a substantial factor in the seasonal increased prevalence of influenza and other viral infections. As vitamin D levels fall in the population, the incidence of seasonal influenza goes up.
  • Maintenance of a 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentration of 38 ng/ml or higher (optimally 60ng/ml) can significantly reduce the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections and the burden of illness caused thereby, at least during the fall and winter, in temperate zones. 
  • Vitamin D(3) supplementation during the fall and winter months appears to reduce the incidence of influenza A and its complications, particularly in those specific subgroups at greater risk for complications and death from the flu (school children, elderly, asthmatics, diabetics, obese persons, pregnant women, Hispanics, people of dark-skinned complexion, and the chronically ill).
  • The subgroups at greatest risk for complications and death from the flu are the same groups found to have the lowest serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D during flu season.
  • Vitamin D is involved in the production of antimicrobial peptides called defensins and cathelicidin. These peptides provide a natural defense against viral and microbiological pathogens specifically in the respiratory tract. Vitamin D supplementation increases their production thereby reducing the risks for respiratory flu and its complications while vitamin D deficiency reduces their production.
  • Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and the complications from those infections.

Vitamin D Explains 14 Well Known Scientific Observations Regarding the Flu

Vitamin D is the unifying answer that explains the following 14 well known scientific observations regarding the flu. It also reminds us of the importance of host susceptibility in the disease equation by affecting "the condition of the soil" in which the disease develops, i.e. the "soil" must be receptive to the infective agent for infection to occur.

Vitamin D explains:

  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 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 Whites are.

From: Cannell JJ: Virol J. 2008 Feb 25;5:29

How Much Vitamin D(3) Will Help Avoid the Flu?

How much vitamin D will help you avoid the flu?First of all, let me begin by stressing the importance of having your 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentration monitored by your health care practitioner. At our clinic, we follow our patients with regular evaluations of their levels… approximately every three to six months. We like to test their levels in early September and again in early March to assure adequate levels are maintained through the “darker” months of the seasons. Based on the latest scientific literature, we commonly shoot for maintaining 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentrations of >50 ng/ml with optimum levels at 60 to 75 ng/ml. These levels assure the greatest risk reduction for the disorders now associated with vitamin D deficiency states (cancers of various types, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders, depression, various autoimmune diseases).

To maintain adequate serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, as discussed in the previous paragraph, supplemental intake in the area of 5,000 IUs of vitamin D(3) daily are commonly required in our area of the northwestern United States. Also, ONLY under my guidance as a physician, I often have my patients take daily doses of 20,000 IUs to 40,000 IUs of vitamin D(3) daily for seven to ten days upon displaying any early signs of flu or respiratory infection. I am often amazed at vitamin D’s efficacy in resolving the flu. Please, talk to your health care provider about vitamin D and what you might do to optimize your vitamin D levels through the flu season.

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There's More to Learn About Vitamin D

Vitamin D: the wonder vitamin
Vitamin D is an active hormone in the body


Bartley J: J Laryngol Otol. 2010 May;124(5):465-9.

Cannell JJ, et al: Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40

Cannell JJ, et al: Virol J. 2008 Feb 25;5:29.

Millen AE, et al: Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1324-35

Sabetta JR, et al: PLoS One. 2010 Jun 14;5(6):e11088.

Schwalfenberg GK: Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Sep 7

Urashima M, et al: Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60.

White JH: J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Jul;121(1-2):234-8.

About the Writer

Dr. Patrick Donovan of TheDispensaryOnline.comDr. Donovan is a Naturopathic Physician, author, educator, and a professor of clinical medicine at Bastyr University's Natural Health Clinic. In 2010 he was voted by his professional peers as one of Seattle’s Top Doctors in the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. Dr. Donovan writes and lectures on the transformational process of healing and believes a person’s healing journey is ultimately a quest for his/her identity, purpose and meaning. He has more than 35 years of patient care experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Naturopathic Physician (ND), representing a wide range of clinical settings from hospital-based surgical and intensive care as a registered nurse to outpatient primary care as a physician.

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November 3rd, 2010 by Dr. Patrick Donovan

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