Monday, March 7, 2011

Flu Season is Here

I've noticed everyone around me getting sick lately (I seem to have become mostly immune to colds and the flu in the last couple of years), so I took a look at Google Flu Trends. Lo and behold, the United States is currently near peak flu incidence for the 2010-2011 season. Here's a graph from Flu Trends. This year's trend is in dark blue:


Flu Trends also has data for individual US states and a number of other countries.

It's time to tighten up your diet and lifestyle if you want to avoid the flu this year. Personally, I feel that eating well, managing stress effectively, and taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day in winter have helped me avoid colds and the flu.

66 comments:

theshmaltz said...

Interesting. I'm in Australia (we've just finished Summer and now into Autumn) and I have a bit of a flu spike here at work. Quite a few people off this week with fever, aches etc. Maybe a localised thing, but definitely more than usual at this time of year.

fu laoshi said...

Would you kindly tell me what brand of D3 are you taking?
Thanks for sharing.
Michelle

Reijo said...

I recently reviewed the evidence on dietary supplements in common cold prevention. There is meta-analysis based evidence also on vitamin C, zinc, probiotics, xylitol, garlic They may all help in preventing/curing common cold or other respiratory infections. Here in Finland xylitol is integrated part of prevention guidelines of otitis media.

This is my take on this matter: http://www.slideshare.net/pronutritionist/common-cold-dietary-supplements

Nigel Kinbrum said...

A lot of people on Facebook are currently moaning about their ailments. I keep posting links to my Vitamin D blog and I keep pointing out that I haven't had a cold or flu since December 2008 and that it was a far milder case than what everyone else had at the time. Sadly, people seem to prefer to just carry on moaning.

One friend told me that she didn't like "pills" and would only take paracetamol/acetaminophen. Oh, dear!

Gabriella Kadar said...

There's a very nasty cold virus, not influenza going around. This thing was going around last year as well, so it seems those of us fortunate enough to have missed out last year, got it now. This dastardly evil virus quickly develops into a pneumonia although it begins as a typical head cold. No fever, no aches and pains, just terrible fatigue, coughing and sinus congestion.

As to vitamin D3, I don't know, but I've been taking 8,000 IU daily and it had not done anything as far as prevention.

Sinus rinsing 3 or 4 times per day didn't help. Antibiotics helped to prevent secondary bacterial infection. All the usual 'kitchen medicines' made no difference either.

The worst is over but I know I'm in for another 'lost week-end'.

Exposure to a sick patient (who is still coughing after a full 5 weeks) and stress has had a lot to do with susceptibility.

This virus may be able to play a game of hide and seek with the immune system.

Charlie said...

Interesting if true regarding the cold virus.

Both my sister and mother came down with something like that. Very nasty infection. Again, a Google Flu trend failure if it can't pick up the difference.

Chuck said...

I have only missed work once due to illness in the last 4 years and I attribute that diet. I just got over a week long cold that got to about 3 on a scale of 10. Not bad but nagging.

Robert said...

It's supposedly a record year for flu cases as well here in Toronto.

I've no doubt that a proper diet is essential to immune defence. But I also think that I've been free from colds/flu etc becasue of diligent hand washing in the winter time. Those pesky viruses can live for a long time on keyboards, ATMs, door knobs etc...

JEAN said...

Here on the North coast of CA, we are experiencing Gabrielle's virus, one week, two weeks or more of misery. Starts with a head cold, and then 'pow'. At Christmas, the ER was flooded with people, they mostly got fluids, but there was at least one admission that I know of. It's nasty. My PCP says there's been no reports of the official 'flu' here.
And oh, the flu shot had no effect on this stuff, sometimes the shot will sort of blunt the usual colds, but not this time.
The only persons I know who haven't been sick are those who work outside all day, landscapers.

luc0815 said...

I can confirm that Vit. D does not prevent this current cold virus in Northern California. Both my wife and I cannot remember coughing so hard for such a long time before - (all without any fever). Two nights I could not sleep because I could not stop coughing.

Travis Culp said...

I just had my vitamin D level checked and it was 85ng/ml and I got a bit sick from the virus that's going around. I continued to lift weights and do other exercise after symptoms started because I mistook it for an allergy or something, so I think I may have been able to truncate the duration even further, but as it was, I got some phlegm and a headache for a couple of days and then it was gone with some lingering phlegm after that.

The people around me who are getting it have a horrible cough and are completely out of commission for a long time. I suspect that proper levels of micronutrients play an important role. At the suggestion of Dr. Jaminet I have added lamb's liver to my diet, so I suspect that my resistance will increase further.

Maggie said...

If you've been coughing hard for weeks and weeks, consider getting tested for pertussis (aka, whooping cough). It's making a strong appearance this season. Our family came down with it this past fall. It took a long time to get diagnosed correctly (5 weeks). We didn't have any fever or other common symptoms and so didn't feel too bad except when coughing. But the cough -- horrible! It wouldn't go away and was so hard it would make us "throw up" or unable to breathe afterwards. If you have pertussis, it is important to get treated with the appropriate antibiotic so you don't spread the infection (it is bacterial), but it doesn't cure the cough. You're stuck with it until it runs its course, which can be a full 3 months. Oh, all of us were up to date on the pertussis booster at the time (I had mine the previous spring!) Maybe our symptoms would have been worse without the vaccination, but it was bad enough.

Helen said...

I had Gabriella's virus around Christmas. I kept telling people how deathly it was: the term "cold" didn't cut it. I felt worse than with most flus, where I get a high temperature and body aches for a day or two and am done with it. (I sometimes enjoy having a high fever - call me weird.) This gave me a marginal fever - about 99-100 degrees - which would come and go. I also had an elevated heart rate for the duration of the cold - between 100 and 160 bpm (mine is usually 60-70 resting) - which I initially went to the ER with. They tested me for flu - that wasn't it.

I knew a few other people who got this (I'm on the East Coast), but I suspected that those who were unscathed thought I must be exaggerating. I really felt like I might die from it, though I'm sure that was simply my subjective experience of it. I've never had such a weird virus. I feel validated by the comments here - though sorry so many are sick with it. I wonder why it hasn't been in the news or of medical interest. SARS is in the cold family, after all.

Half Navajo said...

Don't forget the Whiskey!!!

troy

Ken said...

"2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day in winter"

Maybe you ought to take a couple of thousand IU going to bed in the summer to tide you over the night.

I mean, if you can believe that natural selection has not been able to adapt Europeans to northern winters in 30,000 years ...

----
There are suggestions that the immune response to colds might be beneficial. Better to get a few minor things a year than something really nasty i think.

Ken said...

Degeneration of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons in klotho mouse related to vitamin D exposure.
"Notably, these phenotypes were rescued by vitamin D restriction"

Brandon said...

... and being physically active. You forgot being active.

JLL said...

A bad flu-type of virus going around in Finland too, I know several people who've been sick for two weeks or more, myself included. Taking vitamin D and living an otherwise healthy life didn't prevent me from getting it.

- JLL

Neonomide said...

Reijo's studies were intriguing. Even Cochrane review got now zinc on the anti-flu -list.

For me, after getting D3 more or less a lot more than recommended 7,5 µg a day, flus have kept far away. If there have been mild symptoms, they haven't been hardly any sneezing and slime stuff at all. Many people here seem to see it similarly, except some of those who get D2, weird.

There exists hundreds of respiratory viruses and it's only natural that zinc, Vit C and D3 + other countermeasures only work on some of them. Even so the overall effect seems pretty important.

Stephan said...

Hi Ken,

There is evidence that natural selection has begun adapting people of Northern descent to vitamin D restriction, including in Europeans and Asians. But keep in mind, our ancestors would have been outside much more frequently than we are today. Most of the genetic ancestors of today's Caucasians spent most of their history at a latitude where D production is possible for the bulk of the year, and they would have been getting plenty of sun.

The point is that Caucasians are not adapted to getting zero vitamin D for 6 months of the year, as would be the case here in Seattle if I didn't supplement. It's also be the case for many other people, for lifestyle and location reasons.

About the Klotho study, I hope you're not taking that as evidence that D restriction would protect against aging and/or Parkinson's in humans! That model is not directly relevant to human vitamin D metabolism. Klotho mice greatly overproduce 1,25(OH)D, the activated hormone form of D. That's why D restriction helps them. But that's not relevant to non-mutants because 1,25(OH)D concentration is homeostatically regulated within a normal range of D intakes.

In other words, you don't see a benefit from D restriction in wild-type mice, in which D restriction causes rickets, digestive and metabolic problems and certainly doesn't delay aging.

Ken said...

Vitamin D production from UV radiation: The effects of total cholesterol and skin pigmentation
In the comments Ned is asked:
"Since Vit D production isn't better in light-skinned people, why did lighter skin evolve when people left Africa?"


"Perhaps for the same reason that birds evolved all kinds of weird ornaments eh?

Ole Darwin was right about so many things, maybe he got this one right too"

The same researcher has a more recent paper
Vitamin D production depends on ultraviolet-B dose but not on dose rate: A randomized controlled trial.

"a significant increase in 25(OH)D was achieved with a very low UV-B dose."

It is actually very difficult to restrict vitamin D, one would have to stay out of the sun and the shade to avoid the UVB photons that bounce of the sky the ground ect. I suspect that is why Klotho, a gene related to a syndrome resembling human premature aging, functions in a negative regulatory circuit of vitamin D endocrine system.

A negative regulatory circuit is necessary because there is normally a massive excess of vitamin D.

I'm pushed for time so I'll have to use a link to a comment elsewhere:- HERE for the links.
“Professor Frank Garland, and his brother, Cedric, recommend that every cancer patient should have their vitamin D tested and brought up to a high normal range. This is the natural high level that is found in people who live an outdoor life in sunny countries and can be achieved by taking 50,000 units of vitamin D per week for eight to twelve weeks followed by maintenance on 1,000 to 2,000 units a day”.
ACCORDING to research from the newly published study by Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., FACE, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), “It is projected that raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three quarters of deaths from these diseases, in the US and Canada.”
Plasma vitamin D and mortality in older men: a community-based prospective cohort study.
“There was a U-shaped association between vitamin D concentrations and total mortality. An approximately 50% higher total mortality rate was observed among men in the lowest 10% (<46 nmol/L) and the highest 5% (>98 nmol/L [or 39 ng/ml]) of plasma 25(OH)D concentrations compared with intermediate concentrations. Both high and low concentrations of plasma 25(OH)D are associated with elevated risks of overall and cancer mortality.
Frank Garland, 1950-2010
”A UCSD professor whose studies shed light on the link between vitamin D and cancer. He died Aug. 17 in La Jolla after a year-long battle with an undisclosed illness“

Ken said...

RIP Frank Garland

Ken said...

HERE for the links.
“Professor Frank Garland, and his brother, Cedric, recommend that every cancer patient should have their vitamin D tested and brought up to a high normal range. This is the natural high level that is found in people who live an outdoor life in sunny countries and can be achieved by taking 50,000 units of vitamin D per week for eight to twelve weeks followed by maintenance on 1,000 to 2,000 units a day”.
ACCORDING to research from the newly published study by Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., FACE, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), “It is projected that raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three quarters of deaths from these diseases, in the US and Canada.”
Plasma vitamin D and mortality in older men: a community-based prospective cohort study.
“There was a U-shaped association between vitamin D concentrations and total mortality. An approximately 50% higher total mortality rate was observed among men in the lowest 10% (<46 nmol/L) and the highest 5% (>98 nmol/L [or 39 ng/ml]) of plasma 25(OH)D concentrations compared with intermediate concentrations. Both high and low concentrations of plasma 25(OH)D are associated with elevated risks of overall and cancer mortality.
Frank Garland, 1950-2010
“”A UCSD professor whose studies shed light on the link between vitamin D and cancer. He died Aug. 17 in La Jolla after a year-long battle with an undisclosed illness“

ItsTheWooo2 said...

I got the flu this year. It was horrible.
Even my eyes hurt. Week long of misery. The first day it was like I was hit by a bus. I was coughing into the second week but by then I was better.

Everyone in my family subsequently caught it. When I returned to work a week later, it turns out all my coworkers had the flu at the same time I did, so I suspect I caught it there.

I am healthy as heck and take vitamin D3 (any more than what I Take only results in immune system suppression).

It is not wise to advise people to take high dose vitamin D3. I know from first hand experience that if your vitamin D3 level is too high you become immunosuppressed, a walking biological hunk of matter for viruses to eat up.

I've always had a good immune system, until I started taking 2000 IU of vitamin d3 every other day, plus 1200 daily. Then I started getting sick all the time and couldn't fight off the colds I was getting. 2200 iu of vitamin d3, in my body (i am quite small, 115 pounds) was waaaay too much and was pretty much like taking steroids.

When i stopped the 2000 iu capsule my immune system recovered.

I never noticed any immune benefit from D3. I take 1200 iu per day just to cover my bases, but I definitely notice an immune system penalty if I take too much.

Kurt G. Harris MD said...

Last winter 2009-2010 was the only winter I ever supplemented with D3 - at about 4000 iu/day up to about 65 ng/dl.

Last winter I got the worst virus I ever had and was sick with cough and bronchospasm for weeks afterward. Most winters I catch nothing or get it very mild if at all.

I stopped supplementing with D in march 2010. I do get 20 minute of sun from march through september, but I let my D levels fall naturally the way I have for the past 5 years or so. This winter - 2010-2011 - my wife, who still supplements at 2-4000/day, caught a nasty URI that put her in bed for 4 days. I slept with her and did not get sick at all.

Overall I was definitely more virus prone and sicker when I supplemented to a level of 60-70 ng. dl over a year and a half period - during the winters. I've heard enough anecdotal evidence from others to think heavy supplementation may relate to this.

I now think it is perfectly natural to have seasonal variation in 25 D levels and there is evidence that white people get higher levels in the summer to buffer the drop that occurs in winter. I think oral D3 is artificial and only benefits those on a mineral depleting cereal based diet - that's not me.

So I now get sunlight to less than the MED when I can get it, but I think D3 supplements are for people in nursing homes or solitary confinement.

mike27 said...

Cause v. correlation, people:
Absent actual evidence that moderately supplementing D suppresses immunity I don’t think we can blame excess D for our recent flu infections. I think it’s much more likely to be increased exposure to viruses from vastly increased air travel, etc., especially from China and other third world locations. Cruise ship outbreaks are also noteworthy because cruises seem to last just long enough for the flu to spread and develop.

Brad Hurley said...

When it comes to immunity, I'm a strong believer in the placebo effect (meaning that I think the placebo effect can actually boost immunity). For example, I used to take echinacea at the first sign of a cold or flu, and it seemed to work; I got sick much less often than I had before I started using echinacea. But then I read a study showing the most convincing epidemiological evidence that echinacea has no real effect on immunity; from that point on I got colds and flus despite taking echinacea, and I eventually stopped using echinacea because I realized it wasn't working for me anymore because I no longer believed in it.

I have an acquaintance who believes in homeopathy and it's the same story -- she even cancelled her health insurance (despite the advice of all her friends including me) because her health had improved so much since she started using homeopathic remedies. I've tried homeopathy and found absolutely no effect, and I suspect it's because I am deeply skeptical of it so there's no placebo effect.

Similarly, if you believe that high doses of Vitamin D will boost your immunity, they probably will. I've been remarkably resistant to colds and flus for the past five years or so; the only change in my habits has been to be more disciplined about getting regular aerobic exercise. I got off my exercise schedule around the holidays and promptly got sick. So I think this is my current placebo effect, and I like it; exercise is good.

Brad Hurley said...

I'm having trouble understanding how natural selection could adapt people of Northern descent to vitamin D restriction. By definition, natural selection acts on traits that would cause individuals to produce fewer surviving offspring; as far as I can tell from the literature the only significant health impact of vitamin D restriction from birth through child-bearing age is rickets, which in and of itself doesn't seem like it would affect your ability to bear and raise kids (unless the bones of young women with rickets wouldn't be able to physically bear the weight of carrying a child in utero, or if it resulted in pelvic deformities). But I think even in far northern climates where it's dark all winter rickets is still relatively rare, no?

Natural selection can't act on the various effects of vitamin D deficiency in older adults, since they've already had an opportunity to breed and pass on their genes.

But it's entirely possible that I'm missing something here...

d said...

I work in an ER, and am exposed to every new virus that hits the community. In years past, I'd get sick at least twice per winter, nasty pulmonary stuff.

This year, I haven't been sick yet (knock on wood). The difference.........wheat free since last summer, consistent "paleo" diet, and random D3 supplementation to 2,000/day.

In recent months, I've become skeptical of D3 over supplementation......and now I'm more of a believer of no/limited supplementation and finding more things in foods or nature. I understand dietary sources of D3 are limited.

Stephan said...

Good discussion everyone. I think it's highly plausible that high-dose D supplementation could be harmful, even in the absence of acute D toxicity.

That being said, I have a hard time imagining that keeping my 25(OH)D3 around 40 ng/mL in winter using 2,000 IU per day (more like 2 days out of three) is harmful.

But despite what some may say, the evidence on D supplementation remains pretty slim. The phrase is overused, but here it's appropriate: "more research is needed".

Brad,

I do think that selective pressure would have been strong for vitamin D-related genes at higher latitudes, particularly after the arrival of agriculture. Grain-heavy diets are diets that are low in bioavailable bone-forming minerals, increasing the need for vitamin D. In Africa, Bantu children often get rickets despite ample sun exposure, due to mineral deficiency.

Rickets is a serious disease and I would expect it to severely impact reproductive fitness. D insufficiency also affects bone development in your offspring. In addition, D is involved in immunity, muscle strength and many other things. So I think it makes sense to think about it as a strong selective pressure, and the genetic evidence bears that out. There have been changes in D receptor function and skin color that were rapidly (and in many cases, independently) selected for in European and Asian populations.

revelo said...

Is this blog part of the anti-vaccination movement? I see no mention of the flu shot other than by one poster who says the shot didn't work against Gabrielle's virus.

Ken said...

Plasma vitamin D and mortality in older men: a community-based prospective cohort study

"The idea that high plasma vitamin D concentrations are related to overall cancer death can at first seem counterintuitive, because vitamin D has potent antiproliferative, pro differentiative, and immunomodulatory functions in a variety of cell types (10). Nevertheless, experimental studies have reported that excessive vitamin D activity could promote cancer (8) and accelerate aging (11). Cancer development may be promoted by the direct stimulatory effects of vitamin D on the oncogenic enzyme CYP24 (13) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) production (32, 33). Interestingly, vitamin D excess has also been shown to exacerbate premature aging phenotypes in mouse models of aging (11). These mice, however, can be rescued and their life span extended by suppressing IGF-I activities (11), restricting dietary intake of vitamin D, or by ablating the 1a-hydroxylase gene that is essential for biosynthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (32, 33). {...}Greatly increased enterohepatic cancer death rates were ob- served with both low and high plasma vitamin D concentrations. This is a particularly intriguing finding, because in addition to its classical role in mineral homeostasis, the vitamin D receptor (VDR) is evolutionarily and functionally linked to a distinct group of nuclear receptors that are involved in the elimination of toxic substances absorbed by the gut (19, 22). Low concentrations of vitamin D could contribute to increased enterohepatic carci- nogenesis by reduced detoxification of secondary toxic bile acids (19, 34). Activation of VDR by these bile acids or vitamin D induces expression in vivo of CYP3A, a cytochrome P450 en- zyme that detoxifies secondary bile acids in the liver and intestine (37). Secondary bile acids are formed in the intestine but enter the bile after enterohepatic circulation (19, 34). In contrast, high concentrations of vitamin D suppress the farnesoid X receptor that detoxifies carcinogenic bile acids (12, 20, 21), suggesting a mechanism for increased cancer risk with high vitamin D concentrations. In addition, vitamin D induces osteocalcin (26), which is expressed in pancreatic cancer cells and increases their growth, proliferation, and invasion (35). Also intriguing is the fact that the synthesis and excretion of bile acids were observed to be dramatically elevated in Klotho-deficient mice (36) that ex- hibit altered mineral homeostasis due to high vitamin D activity (11).{...}

Ken said...

(cont.)

Major strengths of our study include the very precise and valid measurement technique used for 25(OH)D analysis (37, 38) and the detailed characterization of study participants regarding mortality risk factors in a prospective design with no loss to follow-up. Additional advantages are the setting in a single geographic area, the homogenous population, and the large number of deaths. Furthermore, the personal identity number provided to all Swedish citizens enables individual matching to registers, resulting in objective and complete information on mortality and morbidity (17). We could thus exclude men with prevalent cancers and cardiovascular diseases at baseline. The results were not explained by competing risks. Our results were also independent of a large number of mortality risk factors, including frailty indicators, lifestyle habits, and biomarkers re- lated to calcium homeostasis. Few participants reported use of vitamin D supplements, and these were not predominantly found among men with high vitamin D concentrations. Our results were also independent of the dietary intake of vitamin D. This is in agreement with previous studies in Sweden showing that vitamin D status in our population is only modestly determined by lyfestyle factors [...] A less detailed quantile analytic approach, such as an analysis of associations with 25(OH)D quartiles, has well-described shortcomings and would have obscured findings at the extremes of vitamin D status (40). Therefore, our analytic approach with the restricted cubic spline analysis together with the categori- zation of vitamin D by our percentiles and a contemporary method (27) is a further strength of our study (40)."

40ng/ml is going to harm you

There have been changes in D receptor function and skin color that were rapidly (and in many cases, independently) selected for in European and Asian populations.

No, skin color lightened by sexual selection. Why would white people's vitamin D synthesis switch of after 20 minutes (just like Africans) if they had evolved white skin to maximize vitamin d synthesis?) melanin does not block UVB The value of melanin as a sunscreen.
"Here we find that epidermal melanin is not a neutral density filter providing no or minimal protection for the induction of erythema at 295 and 315 nm and some protection at 305 and 365 nm"

Stephan said...

This blog is not part of an anti-vaccine movement. However, I don't get vaccinated because I don't see the point of getting a yearly shot to modestly reduce the risk of getting a non-life threatening (for me, a healthy young person) illness that I only get every 5+ years. Everyone gets to make their own choice based on their own criteria, but for me getting the flu shot makes no sense from a statistical standpoint.

A 2004 Cochrane review article does not paint flu vaccines in a very favorable light. They just aren't that effective at preventing the flu:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15266445

ItsTheWooo2 said...

Kurt Harris - Vitamin D is an immunosuppressant. This is related to its antinflammatory properties. This is not secret knowledge it's well known.

Mike27 - This is not an appropriate case of mistaken cause v correlation, as the mechanism by which vitamin D does suppress the immune system is elucidated. This is how it achieves its antinflammatory benefits (inflammation is a function of the immune system, after all).

As I stated, it is a big mistake to encourage people to have high vitamin D3 levels. If you are a healthy person who is not overinflammatory (such as myself) all you will accomplish is making yourself sick all the time by a debilitated, insufficient immune system. We don't even know the long term effects of chronically and abnormally elevated vitamin D3 levels. It is, at this point in time, highly hypothetical that a high level of vitamin D3 is natural, functional, or even beneficial. There is some evidence vitamin D3 causes aging, and there is already known observed effects that it suppresses the immune system. Immune system suppression is a good thing if you are unhealthy, and you have autoimmune diseases... but if you are a healthy person, it is only deleterious as you cannot fight off the common viruses and bacterial infections which threaten you daily.

REMEMBER: something which may benefit some people in certain conditions, does not necessarily mean it benefits all people in all conditions. Immunusuppressive drugs help people who have debilitating autoimmune diseases such as MS or host vs graft disease or people who have had transplants, or any number of autoimmune situations. However if you do not meet that criteria (no severe autoimmune problems) then the drugs which help those people only hurt you - you get sick, you can't fight off infections. If the person has a severe illness then the risk is worth the benefit, because it is life or death.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/125/6_Suppl/1704S.short

"ABSTRACT 1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2-
D,1 is known to be an immunosuppressive hormone.

This review primarily deals with in vitro and in vivo
effects of 1,25-(OH)2-D3 and analogue, 1,25-dihydroxy-
1Gene-vitamin D3 [l,25-(OH)2-16ene-D3], on T helper
subsets type 1 (Th,) or type 2 (Th.,) that have distinctive
functional characteristics in humans. Th, secrete interferon
(IFN-7), interleukin (IL-2) and induce B cells
to produce immunoglobulin IgG.,,,while Thz secrete IL-
4,1L-10 and induce the production of IgG, and IgE by
B cells. The sterol inhibits the secretion of IL-12, a
cytokine produced by monocytes and B cells, which
leads to the activation and differentiation of Th,. In
addition, 1,25-(OH)2-D3 directly inhibits IFN-7 secretion
by Th, clones while it has little effect on 1L-4secretion
by Th2 clones. The analogue, l,25-(OH)2-16ene-D3, is
100-fold more potent than 1,25-(OH)2-D3 in inhibiting
IFN-7 secretion but also has little effect on IL-4 secre
tion. In mice, when given in vivo, the sterol prevents
the induction of spontaneous and induced autoimmune
diseases and inhibits Th, induce IgG.,,,responses. These
actions of the vitamin D, compounds suggest that it
may have potential therapeutic applications in Th,-mediated
clinical situations such as autoimmunity and
transplantation. J. Nutr. 125:17045-17085, 1995."

ItsTheWooo2 said...

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcb.240490106/abstract

"Abstract

The active vitamin D metabolite 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-D3] is thought to promote many of its actions through interaction with a specific intracellular receptor. The discovery of such receptors in monocytes and activated lymphocytes has led investigators to evaluate the role of the hormone on the immune system. The sterol inhibits lymphocyte proliferation and immunoglobulin production in a dose-dependent fashion. At a molecular level, 1,25-D3 inhibits the accumulation of mRNA for IL-2, IFN-γ, and GM-CSF. At a cellular level, the hormone interferes with T helper cell (Th) function, reducing Th-induction of immunoglobulin production by B cells and inhibiting the passive transfer of cellular immunity by Th-clones in vivo. The sterol promotes suppressor cell activity and inhibits the generation of cytotoxic and NK cells. Class II antigen expression on lymphocytes and monocytes is also affected by the hormone.

When given in vivo, 1,25-D3 has been particularly effective in the prevention of autoimmune diseases such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and murine lupus but its efficacy has been limited by its hypercalcemic effect. Synthetic vitamin D3 analogues showing excellent 1,25-D3-receptor binding but less pronounced hypercalcemic effects in vivo have recently enhanced the immunosuppressive properties of the hormone in autoimmunity and transplantation."



Why anyone would take this in excess is beyond me. I can only imagine they are buying the hype that D3 is a wonderdrug. Yea, it's a wonder drug... if you need to suppress your immune system, then its your golden ticket.

I do think the worsening trend of flu and cold viruses may be related to the trend to normal healthy people taking way too much vitamin D3. We are walking around potentially immunosuppressed because of this OTC drug we are ignorantly taking and we don't know it.


It's sort of like how taurine is hyped and marketed as an energy giving stimulant. In reality taurine is a highly potent inhibitory amino acid which converts to GABA with efficiency. The effect of GABA in the brain reduces excitatory, stimulant neurotransmitters. Taurine is used for bipolar mania and epilepsy with significant clinical effect in studies. If you take taurine with your caffeine you will only inhibit your energy boost from the caffeine. The more taurine you take, the more caffeine you need to overcome the inhibition of the taurine.
The hype of taurine as a stimulant is all marketing. THere is no basis in reality.

This is similar to the vitamin D3 hype... in reality this is nothing more than an immunosuppressant. That may be good for inflammation (diabetes, heart disease, etc) and for autoimmunity (MS, lupus, etc) but it is horrible for healthy people.

Facetguy said...

Speaking of vitamin D, is anyone familiar with the work of Trevor Marshall? His work seems to run counter to the rest of the vitamin D literature. From what I gather, he feels that low vitamin D is the result, not the cause, of certain illnesses, particularly autoimmune conditions.

Facetguy said...

On the flu vaccine issue, the literature is not very reassuring as to that particular vaccine's safety or effectiveness.

For the elderly: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166072 (2010 Cochrane Review)
"The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older."

For healthy adults:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614424 (2010 Cochrane Review)
"The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies."

For healthcare workers working with elderly:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166073 (2010 Cochrane Review)
"We conclude there is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs prevents influenza in elderly residents in LTCFs."

For healthy children:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18425905 (2008 Cochrane Review)
"It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months old in the USA and Canada."

The flu vaccine program is promoted with vigor, so one would expect the data to be considerably stronger than it is.

ItsTheWooo2 said...

My comments got deleted.

I provided two studies which show that vitamin D3 is well established as an immunosuppressive drug. I would not be surprised if vitamin D3 craziness is the reason people are more frequently, and more severely coming down with flu and cold viruses.

Boo.

Stephan said...

It didn't get deleted, just caught in the spam filter, which has gotten tougher lately. I just published them.

ItsTheWooo2 said...

Thanks Stephen.

After reading the clear evidence that vitamin D3 is an immune suppressant, and after first hand experiencing immunodeficiency secondary to taking 2200 iu of vitamin D3 daily... I wonder if the reason I got the flu this year is because i still take 1200 iu per day. It stands to reason that my immune system may still be slightly suppressed because of the vitamin D3 I am taking. After all, the study found the immune suppression of vitamin D3 was dose dependent and linear.

Perhaps I should go down to 800 or 400iu daily?

Its unfortunate and ironic that people are told by physicians and others to take vitamin D3 to stay healthy in the winter, when the reality is the opposite. Vitamin D3, in a higher than optimal range, will make sure you catch every cold and virus and suffer with them longer than you otherwise would have. It may be true that vitamin D deficiency hurts the immune system, but from what I can see I am probably not vitamin D deficient and it is a bad idea for me to take it because any more than a very low level seems to have consequences on my immune system competency.

I wonder how many people are like me - taking vitamin D out of social pressure, when all evidence suggests I don't need it and it is harmful to me.



It's amazing how easily we fall pray to social pressure and "knowledge everyone knows". You think we would know better, as people interested in alternative hypotheses to mainstream dietary/health wisdom. I still find myself falling victim to "information everyone knows" like vitamin D is good and can't hurt, and it's better to take a little than to take none at all. I am staring down plain evidence that it is not true - no vitamin D3 is best for me. Prior to taking vitamin D3 I had no immune system problems.


I don't think I am going to stop the vitamin D, though. I have noticed my depression has improved over the years, which may partially relate to vitamin D (and perhaps also to the immune system suppression as a high immune system response is linked to depression). It is worth it for me to have a reduction in frequency and severity of depression, in exchange for mild immune system suppression.

Helen said...

@ It's the Woo -

You make a good point. I've wondered if people taking megadoses of Vitamin D experience fewer colds because their immune response to such is suppressed, because I had read that Vitamin D is an immune suppressant. (A while back, Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal recounted his successful experiences doing this.) If so, what is happening in the body when the normal response to a virus is suppressed? What happens to the virus?

On the other hand, sometimes the immune response to virus is more harmful than the virus itself. This is why some strains of flu, like the much-hyped 2009-10 bird flu and deadly 1918 flu pandemic, have the highest death rates among *young adults.* Their immune systems being most robust, some went overboard in reaction to a virus they hadn't seen before. (Older people who'd been exposed to a greater variety of cold viruses fared better.) A little immune suppression in cases like this might be helpful.

I do get more colds now that I'm take 1000 IU/day (was taking 2000-4000 IU last year) than 5-10 years ago when I must have been vitamin D deficient, as I religiously wore sunscreen and took only a multivitamin with 400 IU vitamin D. A lot else has changed since then, so I can't say that's the reason, but everyone at my office would be dropping like flies and I'd be unscathed, except for one short flu a year. I always thought it was because I took extra vitamin C daily - about 500mg, something I don't do anymore. Vitamin C was the vitamin D of its day.

@ Ken - The information you share about vitamin D and toxic bile acids is alarming. Coincidentally, I'm suddenly concerned about bile acids because they are currently making my life a living hell, post-gallbladder surgery. Now I just don't know what to do or think. I'm kind of at a loss. During the past 18 months in which I've made changes that should have made me healthier according to some blogs - eliminating gluten and supplementing vitamin D, and going low-carb for a while - my health has done nothing but decline, dramatically. I have no idea if it's coincidental - perhaps diabetes, a diseased gallbladder, and now bile reflux were all lying in wait for me - but it does make a person skeptical.

WilliamS said...

My own experience with vitamin D has been complete elimination of colds and flu. I used to get them all the time, multiple times per winter. Since supplementing D, starting some years back, I haven't had even a single one. You hear many similar anecdotal stories.

On the other hand, my blood levels have been quite high (between 70 and 85) and I've begun to wonder if that could be a contributor to certain health problems, including tendinitis and inflammation in my hands. I've read a few anecdotal reports of people claiming that tendinitis (possibly from calcification) appeared with vitamin D supplementation and resolved when supplementation stopped. At this point, it's just speculation, but I have substantially reduced my dose of vitamin D and have added some K2 and vitamin A (retinoic acid) to see if it helps.

But given the apparent immune boost and amazing resistance to infections I've enjoyed, I'm reluctant to eliminate vitamin D entirely.

kilton9 said...

Ken,

"It is actually very difficult to restrict vitamin D, one would have to stay out of the sun and the shade to avoid the UVB photons that bounce of the sky the ground ect."

Or walk around all winter long with clothing over every part of the skin other than the face.

But no one does that, right? LOL.

Facetguy said...

@Wooo2,

I disagree that 1,25 is immunosuppressive and that's that. Vitamin D is turning out to be more complicated than that. My understanding is that vitamin D is immune 'modulating', not simply suppressive or boosting (i.e., it does both). The one paper you referenced is from 1995, which is early on in the wave of vitamin D research and as such likely doesn't represent the whole picture (the other reference is cut off so I couldn't look at it).

There are also multiple studies, albeit primarily epidemiological, that show immune-related benefits. Here are a few:

http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v63/n4/abs/1602960a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19237723

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20559424

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962

More info in certainly needed. But I disagree that taking modest doses of vitamin D causes one to catch a cold.

Robert said...

Thanks Stephan

Thanks Ken Facetguy and others for fascinating links.

This one from Ken is particularly though provoking. The idea there is not much different in UVB production between 1 and 20 mins exposure if I am understanding Ken and the summary correctly is highly thought provoking

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21158934

Robert said...

4 compelling videos from UCLA on vit D

Vitamin D Prevents Cancer: Is It True?
http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=16940

Skin Cancer/Sunscreen - the Dilemma
http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=15770

Dose-Response of Vitamin D and a Mechanism for Cancer Prevention
http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=15767

Vitamin D & Cardiovascular Disease- New Frontiers for Prevention
http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=15772

Kurt G. Harris MD said...

Woo

"Kurt Harris - Vitamin D is an immunosuppressant. This is related to its antinflammatory properties. This is not secret knowledge it's well known."

No, vitamin D in vivo is critical to innate immunity.

In a blog post I wrote:

"VDRs are found on B and T lymphocytes and monocytes, all cells involved in immune function. D3’s effect on immune function improves resistance to infection by strengthening the innate immune system, for instance by supporting phagocytosis and destruction of invading organisms. D3 also modulates the adaptive immune response to better differentiate self from non-self. This latter effect, modulation of the adaptive immune response, appears to be involved in the ability of Vitamin D to decrease susceptibility to serious and common autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes"

For more you can read this and the references..

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/9/vitamin-d.html

I happen to think that at appropriate levels, D supplementation strengthens innate immunity, but at higher levels is neutral or harmful to it..

It is definitely not cut and dried - if you think it is you must not have read anything at all yourself - that is the only way the issue could seem so obvious to you..

So you're statement that it is "no secret" is pure hyperbole, unless you've actually read nothing yourself.

ItsTheWooo2 said...

Helen - you make a good point. Perhaps sometimes the immune response to the virus is more damaging and causes more symptoms than the virus itself. However, for me, this does not seem to be the case as it is very clear that taking vitamin D3 allows viruses to replicate in my body, which then ends up causing both virus and immune system symptoms to illness.

It should also be mentioned that it is dangerous to catch every virus you come in contact with. Viruses don't just cause temporary symptoms, they can alter our genes and contribute to cancers. Having a tough immune system that can prevent infection with viruses is ideal... however, it might be eworth it to be immune suppressed if you have a strong family history of autoimmune disease.
I suspect certain types of cancers might become more common in people who take high doses of vitamin D3, and this is probably attributed to immunosuppression, increased viral infection rates, all of which allows cancers to proliferate.
In people with immune deficiencies cancers are known to become more common.

But like I said if 50% of your relatives have RA or some other debilitating autoimmune disease, a high dose vitamin D3 might be good for you. It's a lot better than prednisone in terms of S/E.

I find it interesting that you assume 5-10 years ago you were "probably vitamin D3 deficient". Why would you assume you were deficient, just because you werent' megadosing on vitamin D3? If your body was working fine, and if you notice no benefits from vitamin D3, other than immune suppression, why would you continue to assume that you were deficient of this thing? I do not buy the hype that we need super high levels of vitamin D, I do not buy the hype that we can't manufacture enough of our own. 400 IU daily is probably enough for any person of northern european decent, especially if you are small / slow metabolism.

Vitamin C, interestingly, I have noticed clear benefits from. My energy levels are much higher on the days I take vitamin C. Vitamin C helps thyroid hormone work more efficiently among other things. I have noticed a clear cut benefit. I also do not bruise as easily and my gums do not bleed the way they used to.


Low carb is hard after gallbladder removal, it's hard to digest fats I believe when one does not have a gallbladder.

I don't know about your health problems...but if the issue is getting colds and viruses, stop the vitamin D3 I am sure it will help. It is 100% true that vitamin D3 cripples the immune system.

ItsTheWooo2 said...

Facetguy-
All those links you posted were corelational studies. Obviously healthy people are more likely to have higher vitamin D3 levels, because healthy people take supplements, live better, have less stress, don't eat like garbage, have more money and better access to health care, etc. Is the vitamin D3 protecting them, or is it that vitamin D3 is now a marker for being an educated healthy person who is less likely to get sick because they are overall healthy and wealthy ?

The links I posted clearly elucidate the mechanisms by which vitamin D3 suppresses the immune system. This completely matches my experience, and others experience. I did not take a "megadose" of vitamin D3, I only took 2200 iu daily. This was enough to ensure I was chronically fighting off viruses and not winning (hehe charlie sheen).


The last link does seem to show evidence that vitamin D3 prevented influenza A in children... but it might be possible this is just secondary to suppression of a dysfunctional immune system. It's well known that people who have allergic problems are more likely to catch URI's due to increased mucous, fluid, congestion and such complications in the airways, this provides a breeding ground for infections and pneumonia.

Perhaps, in this group of children, immune system suppression with vitamin D3 reduced the rates of allergic symptoms like asthma and congestion (12 in placebo vs 2 in vitamin D3 group)... which reduced the likelihood of getting any kind of respiratory infection.
However, this would only be beneficial for children with allergies... as the benefit of reducing the allergic symptoms would thereby reduce the risk of catching a URI, which would offset the debilitation of the immune system caused by vitamin D3. For children and adults with no allergies then vitamin D3 would not protect against URI as all you are doing is lowering the immune system for no reason.


I am perturbed that we are recommending vitamin D3 based on flimsy correlations that people who take vitamin D3 don't get sick as much. Well maybe it's because people who take vitamin D3 are more health conscious, educated and live better than people who don't?

Setiss said...

The flu is very relative, anyone with the proper method can resist, avoid or cure the flu and colds instantly! I mean it, this isn't a joke.
Read more on how to do that at:
www.mindforbodyhealing.co.cc
And read more about healing and health secret methods from Taoist ancient masters now revealed. Mind for body healing. See you there

Facetguy said...

Wooo2,

As I stated earlier, much of the literature on vitamin D is epidemiological and can only prove correlation. There are some clinical trials out there, such as the Japanese children study I posted. (Apparently, vitamin D did as well or better than the flu shot in that particular study.)

When you say "The links I posted clearly elucidate the mechanisms by which vitamin D3 suppresses the immune system", again I think that is overly simplistic and incomplete. We know that vitamin D can upregulate immunity too, particularly the innate immune system. Vitamin D's ability to modulate the immune system in multiple ways makes it intriguing.

Regarding cancer, you said "I suspect certain types of cancers might become more common in people who take high doses of vitamin D3, and this is probably attributed to immunosuppression...". This might be true if vitamin D solely suppressed the entire immune system, but that is not the case. There is, again, lots of epidemiological data regarding vitamin D and cancer. These don't prove causation, but all that data shouldn't be dismissed either. And there are multiple mechanisms whereby vitamin D can play a beneficial role in cancer.

Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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Ken said...

Blood Vitamin D Levels in Relation to Genetic Estimation of African Ancestry

"African-Americans generally have lower circulating levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] than Whites, attributed to skin pigmentation and dietary habits. Little is known about the genetic determinants of 25(OH)D levels nor whether the degree of African ancestry associates with circulating 25(OH)D.[...]The effect of high vitamin D exposure from sunlight and diet was 46% lower among African-Americans with high African ancestry than among those with low/medium ancestry. "

(And diet, think through the implications of that please.

Those with a lot of melanin in their skin seem to have evolved to restrict vitamin d levels. What happens when they have high vitamin D?

Not good things:-

Vitamin D, Adiposity, and Calcified Atherosclerotic Plaque in African-Americans

"In addition, positive associations exist between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and aorta and carotid artery CP in African-Americans"

dale said...

This is not a good thing for health. Recently I want to the Gloucester county and there also some case of flu. I was lucky because I am affected from its.

Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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ItsTheWooo2 said...

The only reason PTH levels would be inversely related to vitamin D3 is because vitamin D will cause a high level of calcium to be absorbed/in the blood. PTH is released to increase calcium. Therefore vitamin D3, which will cause hypercalcemia, will suppress PTH thereby.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parathyroid_hormone

The adverse affects you are attributing to PTH are more accurately attributed to hypercalcemia (htn, aging). Seeing as vitamin D3 is a great way to cause hypercalcemia, it is only logical to say that a high level of vitamin D3 is just as problematic as a high level of PTH.

Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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Me said...

Those of you with a "bad cold" with a horrible cough should search for
"Mycoplasma pneumoniae." This is a bacterial infection that sometimes turns into "walking pneumonia" as it did for my husband. I just had the gag-inducing cough and weeks of misery. There's been a recent epidemic in Finland.

Ken said...

Might-o'chondri-AL,There were two studies in my comment because taken together they re-enforce the point. In relation to the first linked study 'Blood Vitamin D Levels in Relation to Genetic Estimation of African Ancestry'
I said...

"And diet, think through the implications of that please"

You obviously didn't bother.

Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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s.cass said...
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shatfat said...

Cute. I took the vaccine. No flu for me.

Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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Might-o'chondri-AL said...
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