Skip to comments.Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked to Fewer Infections
Posted on 07/12/2010 5:27:45 PM PDT by CutePuppy
Previously I have highlighted the benefits vitamin D has with regard to improving the immune response and helping keep infections such as flu at bay.
It has been mooted that the upsurge in viral infections during the winter is connected with the generally lower vitamin D levels at this time. The traditional view is that winter infections are due to indoor crowding.
However, research indicates that flu epidemics do not occur in the summer in crowded workplaces despite the presence of the flu virus around people who should be susceptible to infection. This is based on research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team in Atlanta, published in May 2001 in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, and other research published in Volume 8 of Epidemiologic Reviews in 1986.
These facts were plucked from a study by the department of medicine at Yale University. Published in June in PLoS One journal, the study looked at the relationship between vitamin D levels and risk of viral respiratory tract infection such as cold and flu. This study assessed blood levels of vitamin D and viral infection in almost 200 American men and women throughout last autumn and winter.
This study produced some interesting findings:
Compared to individuals with vitamin D levels less than 38 ng/ml (95 mmol/l), individuals with levels of 38 ng/ml or above were about half as likely to suffer from a viral respiratory infection during the study period.
Of those with higher vitamin D levels (as defined above), 83 percent had no infections at all during the study period, compared to 55 per cent of those with lower levels.
Those with higher levels of vitamin D who succumbed to flu were ill for an average of two days per infection.
Those with lower levels of vitamin D who succumbed to flu were ill for an average of nine days per infection.
This study showed that as vitamin D levels rose, so did resistance to infection. However, the benefit appeared to plateau at about 38 ng/ml.
Of course, epidemiological studies of this nature cannot be used to prove causality (that is, that higher vitamin D levels protect against viral infection). They indicate only that the higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved resistance to infection.
However, the idea that vitamin D might actually help protect against infection is at least plausible, as the authors of the above study point out: Vitamin D has known effects on the immune system. The production of the antimicrobial peptides cathelicidin by macrophages and β-defensin by endothelial cells is upregulated by vitamin D. These peptides may be involved in the direct inactivation of viruses.
If it is true that optimizing vitamin D can help protect against infection, then this might have particular significance for the elderly, particularly those who are institutionalized.
A combination of low vitamin D, somewhat compromised immune function, and crowding could indeed be a lethal mix for some. Enhanced sunlight exposure or vitamin D supplementation could be a safe and inexpensive way of protecting against illness and preserving life.
Study of only 200 people, but observation may result in a wider study with larger sample and better access to relevant data. As noted, it doesn't imply causality, only possible correlation at this time and, if proved, at least a contributing factor.
So remember stay out of the sun (even though you need vitamin D). Don’t eat meat (even though you need the vitamins and protien). Don’t eat eggs (even though they turn out to increase good cholesterol). And don’t drink alcohol even though you live longer if you do.
IMO Vitamin D is the all around super supplement.....
I take 5,000 IU’s of D3 a day.......
I appreciate you posting this information.
It's almost as if human life is perfectly adapted to living under Earth's sun...
What other amazing surprises await us?
I take 4500IU a day too, with calcium to boot! The Target brand chocolate chews are awesome. Also supplement with Iron and B-12.
I’ve already seen the difference in my finger nails. They used to break all the time. Now, nice and strong. And after having the Oink flu last fall, I’m doing as much to get even healthier. Well, and of course the Dr. telling me I need more D and Calcium sorta prompted it. :)
Vit D again. ping
Ah, about time for the government to outlaw it.
You forgot moderate amounts of coffee and chocolate... which are also “bad” for you.
Notice that they didn’t tell you how much you had to take to get to the effective blood concentration. One still has to guess.
You are welcome. There is some more recent info on likely benefits of vitamin D3 here:
Chewable chocolate vitamins? I have got to get some of those! I hate swallowing pills so I’ve been neglectful in the vitamin department.
These sound awesome. Thanks for the great tip. :)
They are really good! Not as chalky as that famous brand my Dr’s office carries. It was her suggestion to try the Target brand. Even the pharmacist at Target recommended them. I take one with each meal. Its almost like a mini dessert. LOL.
True that: Coffee is the largest source of anti-oxidants in the average American’s diet.
There are good reasons for it: different people with different constitution (weight, height, age, hormonal and chemical balance and absorption and processing rate) means it would be different for almost everyone, i.e. some people may get to the suggested "minimum" or optimal number by taking the equivalent (e.g., from the combination of sun exposure, food or supplements) of 1,000IU per day, while others may need 5,000IU or more.
The most "generic" recommendation I've heard these days is daily equivalent of about 2,000IU (which is higher than "official" RDA), but trial and error with ramping up the dosage (if in the form of supplements) to reach recommended 38ng/ml+ should be done individually.
Actually, the lack of recommended intake dosage gives me more confidence that this study and reporting is real, and not just to push supplements, i.e. it recognizes individual differences of intake on blood concentration.
I’ve been avoiding Target like the plague as I can never get out of there without a cartload of stuff I never knew I ‘needed’. LOL
These little babies will get me there, though, with cash in my pocket and my debit card firmly ensconced in the kitchen drawer at home. :)
A recent important note about Vitamin D.
While it has long been known that a small number of people are sensitive to as little as 3,000 IU/day Vitamin D supplements, it has recently been discovered that a different small group of people have some indeterminate factor that limits their level of serum Vitamin D.
That is, they take supplements, but it doesn’t make it to their blood, as it should.
Unfortunately, this is brand new research, so there are a lot of unanswered questions. But guaranteed, there will be more research on this oddity.
Until then, there is a common blood test for serum Vitamin D, and there are enough variables so that it would be good to find out if you have too little, enough, or too much. If you want to know, ask your doctor.
>>Notice that they didnt tell you how much you had to take to get to the effective blood concentration. One still has to guess.<<
I got serious about supplementing with Vit D3 two years ago. By that I mean I started measuring my level in spring and fall. So far I’ve determined that I need about 5,000 IU per day in winter and about 1,000 IU in summer even though I’m outside quite a bit in summer. (In Wisconsin we don’t get enough sunshine from Oct to March to generate vit D3 and really should supplement.)
I would recommend that anyone taking it pick a target (mine is 50-70ng/ml) and measure just before winter starts to get a baseline, then supplement some in the winter if you live up north and measure again in April or early May to determine whether you maintained (if you started at a decent level) or increased (if you started with a pathetically low level, say 15 or 20 ng/ml.)
Then, if you’re outside in the summer, or live in the south, stop supplementing and measure D3 levels again in September to see if you maintained your April/May level, or increased or decreased. (I actually fell in summer, so I’m now still taking 1,000 IU in summertime to see where I end up in September.)
You can order your own test from a good private testing service for about $70 per test. They can be found on the website vitamind3council.org which is an excellent site for D3 info.
Testing spring and fall for two years, or even three, should give anyone a decent idea of how much they need to take to maintain a particular target level. Most people up north are way low. I also wrote a fair amount about this on my website at http://ontrackreading.com/the-diet-piece/vitamin-d3-questions/ It’s a reading website, but I ended up thinking that low levels of D3 might be implicated in reading problems as well so I wrote up some info for readers.
Doesn’t Vitamin D hurt the kidneys due to the calcium???