Vitamin D vs Flu Vaccine

As I was strolling into the local pharmacy, I noticed a big sign next to the front entrance. The sign read, “Get Your Flu Shots Here.” Further above the entrance, in visible range of the passing traffic, was another sign. That got me thinking about an article the I had come across a few months ago. It was published in the Sunday Times on March 15, 2010. The title was,

“Vitamin D better than vaccines at preventing flu”

Apparently, the risk of suffering from flu can be halved if they take vitamin D. Doctors in Japan have found that vitamin D, which is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, has no significant side effects, is cheap and easy to acquire, and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines.

Mitsuyoshi Urashima, the Japanese doctor who led the trial, told The Times that vitamin D was more effective than vaccines in preventing flu.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, there were no detectable differences between the subjects taking the vitamin and the placebo pills. However, by the second and third month when the vitamin blood levels began to rise, the superior results of the vitamin were undeniable.

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 per cent in children who have been exposed to infection, compared with a 50 per cent or greater reduction with vitamin D. Anti-virals are also too expensive, and possibly too toxic to be given to the whole population whereas vitamin D has additional health 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 Cannell, President of the Vitamin D Council recommends the following:

Take enough Vitamin D3 to get your 25(OH)D level above starvation levels (50 ng/ml or 125 nmol/L). Levels of 50 ng/ml usually require at least 5,000 IU per day for adults, some adults will require more. Children should take 1,000 IU per every 25 pounds of body weight. After taking this dose for 3 months have a 25(OH)D level. Individual variation in dose response is great and natural 25(OH)D levels (50-70 ng/ml) are not assured by these doses.


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