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HOMEMEDICINEFlu

Vitamin D and the Flu

Published on November 29, 2009, Last modified on December 10, 2016

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One of the greatest triggers of influenza, the swine flu and deaths from pulmonary deficiency is vitamin D deficiency. One of the biggest reviews of the role of vitamin D in health found that people who took supplements of the vitamin for six years reduced their risk of dying from all causes. Studies have already suggested that vitamin D played a key role in protecting against cancer, heart disease and diabetes – conditions that account for 60 to 70 per cent of all deaths in the West.

Researchers from Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York, found that giving supplements of vitamin D to a group of volunteers reduced episodes of infection with colds and flu by 70 per cent over three years. The researchers said that the vitamin stimulated “innate immunity” to viruses and bacteria. The decline in vitamin D levels between November and March is in reality the real “seasonal stimulus” that accounts for the peak in colds and flu in the winter. “Since there is an epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency in the US, the public health implications of this observation could be great,” the researchers wrote.[1]

The increasing use of sunscreens and the decreasing amount of time spent outdoors, especially by children, has contributed to what many scientists believe is an increasing problem of vitamin D deficiency. In the winter, the sun in Britain is barely strong enough to make the vitamin, and by spring, say scientists, 60 per cent of the population is deficient (defined as a blood level below 30ng per milliliter).

Exact dosages are difficult to determine because requirements vary by age, body weight, percent of body fat, latitude, skin coloration, season of the year, use of sun block, individual variation in sun exposure, and how sick someone is. If possible and you live in a warm climate, at least 15 minutes/day in noontime sun with exposure to as much skin as possible is the best way to get Vit. D.  If you receive very little UVB exposure the  Vit. D Council recommends the following dosing levels of D3:

Health children under the age of 2 – 1,000 IU per day*
Healthy children over the age of 2 – 2,000 IU per day*
Adults and adolescents – 5,000 IU per day.

10ug is equal to only 400 IU of Vit D3 so you need to take your dose up
quite a bit or buy a supplement with greater Vit D content per capsule.

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Dr. David Brownstein recommends: Ensure you are taking adequate amounts of vitamin D. I frequently have my patients take short-term, larger doses of vitamin D (10,000-50,000Units/day) for 2-5 days at the first sign of the flu.[2] The current dietary guideline for humans is to consume 50-200 IU of vitamin D a day. However the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s Dr Michael Hollick recommends levels as high as 50,000 IU.

It was back in 1981 that R. Edgar Hope Simpson proposed that a principal cause of seasonal influenza is linked with the deficiency of solar radiation which triggers the production of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter, and vitamin D is crucial in allowing your immune system to defend itself against invading organisms. In addition to vitamin D, studies have suggested that people who exercise moderately suffer fewer and less severe colds and flu infections.[3]

Exercise and the Flu

In a new study, researchers found that when they had a group of mice regularly run on a treadmill over 3.5 months, the animals developed less-severe symptoms when infected with the flu virus. Additionally, mice that exercised right before flu infection, but not regularly over the preceding months, also showed some protection against severe symptoms — which in mice means dampened appetite and weight loss. Those benefits, however, were only apparent in the couple days after infection, whereas regular long-term exercise reduced flu symptoms over the whole course of infection.

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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