Saturday, March 08, 2008

Vitamin D and immunity

Sometimes I read a research report so compelling I just have to get up and do something about it. Just now, that instant reaction included heading downstairs to pop my second vitamin D supplement of the day. Did you get the memo? If not, here's the scoop.

Simply put, influenza viruses hate sunshine. The seasonality --here in winter, gone in summer-- of flu epidemics has long been noted but only more recently understood. The reason, it turns out, that flu bugs hate sunshine is that sunshine on un-sunblocked skin during summer months causes production of vitamin D. D in turn acts on portions of human DNA to produce antimicrobial peptides which are worthy little proteins deadly to the influenza virus.

If the prevention of influenza infections were just a matter of producing 'herd immunity,' than populations in which a large number of individuals had been immunized should have fewer members die of flu. In fact, a study of Italian old folks showed that the death rate dropped not a whit over a 15 year time period during which immunization rates rose from 10% to 60%.

Once the vitamin D/influenza connection was made, other investigators herded together some postmenopausal women and hooked half the old gals up with extra vitamin D. Those in the group without supplements were three times more likely to fall ill with influenza compared to D other group. By the third year of their trial, a higher dose of supplemental D (2000 IU/day) "virtually eradicated all reports of colds or flu."

Virtually and eradicated are strong words. So strong, I went down and took my second 1000 IU D pill for the day. I need all the D I can get to get through the rest of this nasty flu season.

4 comments:

hoosierville said...

Bless you! I started D supplements in November after a very serious repiratory incident that occured in Sept. due to Chronic Bronchitis, or copd, or whatever. Needless to say I quit smoking, thank goodness. But I upped my D intake in January becuase everyone, and I mean everyone has been sick with Flu.....except me! I work for our school system and I am exposed to everything. My lungs are getting stronger, too. I don't know if it's due to the D or smoking cessation but most people who have moderate copd don't see much improvement even with cessation. I swear I'm getting better.

Deb Ray
South Bend,IN

Ezliving Jim said...

You ignored the elephant in the parlor. A single session in a tanning bed can produce more than 10,0000 IUs of healthy natural vitamin D3. Moderate exposure to UV light in a tanning bed is much more effective than eating vitamin supplements. When lack of sunlight is the problem, get a sunlight supplement. Visit your local tanning salon a couple times a week for all the healthy vitamin D3 needed.

JeanMac said...

I've been taking 2 400's - think I'll up it. Thanks again for informative post.

Mauigirl said...

Moving to Hawaii might solve the whole problem...