The risk of children suffering from flu can be reduced by 50% if they take vitamin D, doctors in Japan have found. The finding has implications for flu epidemics since vitamin D, which is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, has no significant side effects, costs little and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Only one in ten children, aged six to 15 years, taking the sunshine vitamin in a clinical trial came down with flu compared with one in five given a dummy tablet. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, the Japanese doctor who led the trial, told The Times that vitamin D was more effective than vaccines in preventing flu.
Vitamin D was found to be even more effective when the comparison left out children who were already given extra vitamin D by their parents, outside the trial. Taking the sunshine vitamin was then shown to reduce the risk of flu to a third of what it would otherwise be.
Dr. Damien Downing, a doctor and medical consultant has publicly stated that governments "do like" epidemics as a chance to impose their will. The London based doctor has been advising patients to increase their vitamin D intake rather than get the vaccine.
You might be shocked to know that there are many physicians in both Canada and the United States who prescribe as much as 50,000 IU of vitamin D daily as a treatment for a long list of chronic diseases.
Dr. John Cannell, MD, suggests high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU) be consumed for three days at the first sign of a cold or the flu. If you have an infection, the truth is you need more vitamin D. That's a given. In other words, vitamin D acts as a natural antibiotic. It works against every type of microbe (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).
Vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter months, especially in countries far north of the equator. Vitamin D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and increasing macrophage (a type of white cell) activity. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of potent anti-microbial peptides in other white blood cells and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection.
50 Percent Reduction In Flu Infections Using Vitamin D
Altogether 354 children took part in the trial. Vitamin D was found to protect against influenza A but not against the less common influenza B.
The trial, which was double blind, randomised, and fully controlled scientifically, was conducted by doctors and scientists from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan.
The children were given a daily dose of 1200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D over a period of three months. In the first month children in the group taking the vitamin became ill just as often as those taking the dummy tablet. But by the second month, when the vitamin level in the children's blood was higher, the advantage of the vitamin was clear.
The Japanese scientists, writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, say that the anti-viral drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir reduce risk of flu infection by 8 percent in children who have been exposed to infection, compared with a 50 percent or greater reduction with vitamin D.
Anti-virals are typically more effective than vaccines for the influenza virus which suggests that both forms of medical intervention would consistently fail in similar studies when pitted against vitamin D.
Anti-virals are also too expensive, and possibly too toxic, to be given to the population as a whole whereas vitamin D has additional benefits. The sunshine vitamin not only prevents bone fractures but is also believed to reduce risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illness, including various bacterial as well as viral infections.
The Japanese finding supports a theory that low blood levels of the sunshine vitamin occurring in winter explain why flu epidemics generally peak between December and March.
Vitamin D activates the innate immune system, enabling the body to produce several proteins such as defensin and cathelicidin which trigger cell activity and disable viruses.
Dr John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary School of Medicine, London, said: "This is a timely study. It will be noticed by scientists. It fits in with the seasonal pattern of flu. There is an increasing background of solid science that makes the vitamin D story credible. "
Dose and Vitamin D Levels Are Critical
Researchers have recently pinpointed the mechanism behind vitamin D3′s ability to enhance the immune system and why it is so critical to our health.
- Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a steroid hormone precursor, which has profound effects on innate immunity.
- The amount of vitamin D in most food and nearly all multivitamins is literally inconsequential.
- The correct daily dose of vitamin D for adults is approximately 5,000 IU/day, not the 200 to 600 IU recommended by the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Medicine and the FDA.
- The only blood test to determine vitamin D adequacy is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, not the 1,25-di-hydroxy-vitamin D test many physicians now order.
- Healthy vitamin D blood levels are between 70 and 90 ng/ml, levels obtained by fewer than 5% of Americans.
- The mechanism of action of vitamin D in infection, dramatically increasing the body's production of broad-spectrum natural antibiotics (anti-microbial peptides or AMP), suggests pharmaceutical doses of vitamin D (1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for several days) will effectively treat not only influenza and the common cold, but help treat a host of other seasonal infections, including meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia, in both children and adults.
About the Author
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.