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Holistic Health Notebook

By Staff | Jul 9, 2010

Vitamin D can help protect against illness

A few months ago, I went to my doctor to get a physical. Just part of a routine yearly check to make sure everything is in working order and not in need of repair. I found that I am a little low in a few things, one of which is vitamin D. Odd, isn’t it? I live in sunny Florida but have low vitamin D levels. But it isn’t surprising, considering that I spend virtually all my time indoors, out of the sun, and when I am out, I am fully clothed. The sun has to actually reach your untanned skin to absorb the precious vitamin D from solar rays. Even if I did do a little au naturel sunbathing, it would be difficult to get the amount of cholecalciferol I need without spending a lot of time outdoors, and that would only work if I do not wear sunscreen or allow myself to tan – both of which erect barriers to absorption.

Remember all the hoopla about flu vaccinations a few months ago? Recent reports indicate that in the past four years, Canada has virtually eliminated flu deaths, even with less than 40 percent of the population receiving the flu vaccine (including the H1N1 vaccine). In fact, Canada has had a total of 16 flu-related fatalities among children (everyone under the age of 18) in four years. Three-quarters of these deaths had severe and chronic underlying health conditions. In the same period, the US pediatric group had 553 flu-associated deaths. On a per-capita basis, that is 3.2 times the death rate in Canada.

What do Canadians know that we don’t know (or do?). First, three years ago Canada started studying the role of vitamin D in flu prevention. Studies show that people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels have significatly more colds or cases of the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D can reduce both the incidence and severity of vital respiratory tract infections such as the flu. Among people with vitamin D levels of 38 ng/ml or higher, only 16.6 percent developed viral infections compared to 45 percent of those with lower vitamin D levels.

Also, back in 2009, a Canadian study revealed that people who received a regular, seasonal flu shot were twice as likely to catch swine flu. So they suspended seasonal flu shots for anyone under 65 and recommended further studies to figure this out. Here in the US, the frenzy to get a flu shot reached all-time high levels as people (driven by the media and pharmaceutical press releases) panicked about the H1N1 flu.

There is much more to this story. Check out the recent publication on www.mercola.com to learn how some drug treatments for the flu actually increased serious side effects, including death.

Meanwhile, it is clear that something as simple as vitamin D is protective. Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamn D Council, believed that influenza is merely a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. I have heard Dr. Cannell speak twice in medical conferences. The first time, he TWICE emptied a whole bottle of vitamin D soft-gels into his mouth during his hour-long presentation to prove how safe he believes cholecalciferol to be. If you want the whole story on vitamin D, go to the www.vitamindcouncil.org website and scan through voluminous data on the benefits of this important nutrient.

I am now taking, on the recommendation of my doctor, 15,000 IU of vitamin D per day to get my blood levels up to 60 ng/ml. I’ll keep you posted.

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator. She can be reached at the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel, at 472-4499 or via her website www.carolsimontacchionline.com.