It’s been a little over two years since Derek brought us the news that Dr. Miller recommended patients avoid the flu shot and take vitamin D instead. This is still one of our most popular posts, so I thought it would be a good time to update our readers on the most recent information on the efficacy of Vitamin D in preventing the flu compared to the flu shot. The following is a round up of recent news on the subject.
Vitamin D “The Sunshine Vitamin”
One out of every two people are vitamin D deficient. Studies show people with lowest vitamin D levels were 36% more likely to have had an upper respiratory tract infection and may be linked to the seasonal flu. Unfortunately, vitamin D is one nutrient that is difficult to get from food. Nutrition experts now recommend supplementation. Optimal dose: 1000 IU daily
Daily Mail: With 14 people dead from swine flu and 190 in intensive care, take a look at what you need to know to protect your family
An investigation by the British Medical Journal found that many of the officials at the World Health Organisation (WHO), which was responsible for issuing the pandemic warning, had commercial ties with companies that earned billions of dollars from the sale of vaccines. WHO denies the claims. Not all experts agree on the vaccine’s benefits. Vaccines have a ‘modest effect’ in reducing flu symptoms in healthy adults and they do make it less likely that you will catch it.
But they have no effect on cutting serious complications of flu such as pneumonia, which is what often kills people, according to respected research organisation the Cochrane Collaboration.
It found almost no evidence that the seasonal flu vaccination routinely given to the elderly reduced the number of deaths or ensuing complications…
Vitamin D might also be effective. Research has linked it with a wide range of benefits including improved resistance to infections.
A recent Japanese trial involving 12 hospitals and more than 300 children found that those given a high dose (1,200IU) of vitamin D had nearly half the number of cases of seasonal flu compared to those on a placebo. The recommended daily amount for children is 200IU.
A very well written and exhaustive epidemiological study of vitamin D and the flu published last week from Norway, suggests vitamin D may be the major controlling factor in influenza epidemics and even most pandemics…
Juzeniene A, Ma LW, Kwitniewski M, Polev GA, Lagunova Z, Dahlback A, Moan J. The seasonality of pandemic and non-pandemic influenzas: the roles of solar radiation and vitamin D. Int J Infect Dis. 2010 Oct 28.
They used data from all over the world, from the last 110 years, to show that influenza death rates go up as vitamin D producing UV light goes down. Furthermore the differences were staggering, with influenza death rates 20 to 600 times higher during months when vitamin D cannot be made in the skin. While some of this is a direct “antibiotic” effect of vitamin D, some of it is likely due to vitamin D causing innate “herd immunity.” The total vitamin D “effect size” hinted at in this Norwegian paper is staggering.
The vitamin D “herd immunity” effect means that if you’re the only one in your family on vitamin D, then your risk of getting the flu is lower but you still have a reasonable chance of getting the virus. If everyone in your family takes vitamin D, but no one else at your child’s school does, then your risk of being exposed and getting sick is even lower. If everyone in your town (herd) takes it then your risk is even lower, if everyone in the country, even lower, etc. This is due to the “herd immunity” effect that is well established for influenza antibodies and I hypothesize is true for vitamin D as well.
Vitamin D boosts immunity by stimulating production of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial protein that serves as a “natural antibiotic” in the body, says Michael Zasloff, a professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
But so far studies looking directly at whether higher vitamin D levels help prevent upper respiratory infections have had mixed results. A Japanese study of 167 schoolchildren first published online in March in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that vitamin D supplements helped reduced incidences of influenza A but not influenza B…
Vitamin D is generally safe, but in high doses scientists say it can pull calcium from bones, causing kidney problems and heart disease. The IOM report says vitamin D may be toxic if you take more than 10,000 IUs a day, and warns the risk of harm may begin to increase at 4,000 IUs daily.
Natural News: Swine flu pandemic outbreak sweeping through Britain even though 70 percent were vaccinated last year
A swine flu pandemic is sweeping through Britain despite the fact that 70 percent of Britain’s over-65 population was vaccinated against swine flu last year. This year, that number is nearly the same — 68.5% — but flu vaccine proponents insist that until everyone is vaccinated, the flu will continue to infect people…
So the real reason Britain is suffering a swine flu pandemic right now is actually three-fold:
#1) It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and Britain is so far north (of the equator) that the people living there aren’t currently generating any vitamin D whatsoever. This makes virtually the entire British population ridiculously vitamin D deficient throughout the winter.
#2) The majority of the British population has been subjected to flu vaccines in previous years,weakeningtheir immune systems and making them more vulnerable to this year’s flu strains.
#3) The flu strain itself is so successful in the wild precisely because so many Britons walk around in chronic states of immune suppression (from vitamin D deficiency, chronic stress, poor dietary habits and so on). This creates a “viral breeding ground” which encourages more rapid virus mutations that make vaccines obsolete anyway.
As you can glean from the above excerpts, vitamin D is very important to our body’s immune system. Even with outdoor exposure in the winter, absorption rates from the sun between the solstices is very minimal for the Northern Hemisphere. Eating vitamin D rich foods is better than supplements, but if you are a vegetarian like me who doesn’t eat fish, this can be a challenge. I’d take a supplement over a vaccination any day!