(Natural News) A new study that was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism focused on the effects that both exercise and adequate vitamin D intake – when present in a person’s life at the same time – have on heart health.The study showed that the two factors working together contributes to heart health a lot more than if either factor was alone.
“In our study, both failure to meet the recommended physical activity levels and having vitamin D deficiency were very common. The bottomline is we need to encourage people to move more in the name of heart health,” said Dr. Ellen Michos, associate director of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Johns Hopkins researchers utilized previously gathered information from the federally-funded Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study that started in 1987. The data came from 10,342 study participants who initially didn’t have any type of heart or vascular disease. These people’s information were updated until the year 2013.
The study participants had an average age of 54 at the start of the study. Women comprised 57 percent of the participants, while 21 percent of them were African-Americans, and the rest identified as white. They came from different parts of the country such as Minneapolis, Minnesota; Forsyth County, North Carolina; Jackson, Mississippi; and Washington County, Maryland.
Between the years 1987 and 1989, study participants self-reported their exercise levels, which were matched against the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations of over 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of strenuous intensity.
Each participant’s exercise level was classified as adequate, intermediate, or poor; people with adequate exercise levels met AHA standards, those with intermediate levels exercised intensely for up to 74 minutes per week or exercised moderately for less than 149 minutes a week, and those who were tagged as having poor exercise levels didn’t exercise at all.
The researchers found that around 60 percent of the participants belonged in the poor or intermediate categories.
The researchers then converted the exercise to metabolic equivalent tasks (METs), an exercise intensity scale that is used by cardiologists to gauge fitness. They then measured for physical activity levels by multiplying METs by minutes per week of exercise.
When the study participants were observed for the second time between the years 1990 and 1992, the researchers measured vitamin D levels in the blood by identifying the amount of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Levels above 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of 25-hyrdroxyvitamin D were considered adequate vitamin D levels. Thirty percent of the participants had proper vitamin D levels.
The Johns Hopkins researchers showed that exercise levels are positively connected to vitamin D levels in a direct relationship – meaning, the more one exercised, the higher the vitamin D levels became. For instance, individuals with adequate exercise had an average 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 26.6 ng/ml, those with intermediate exercise had 24.4 ng/ml, and those with poor exercise had 22.7 ng/ml.
The researchers also found out that the people who met the recommended levels of exercise had a 31 percent lower risk of being vitamin D deficient. However, the researchers said that the positive relationship between exercise and vitamin D was only evident in whites, and not in African-Americans.
Within the 19 years that spanned the study, the researchers reported 1,800 occurrences of cardiac events, including heart attack, stroke, or death due to heart disease or stroke. After adjusting for factors such as sex, education, age, alcohol use, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure medication, race, smoking, and statin use, the researchers discovered that people who met the recommended exercise levels and had adequate vitamin D levels had a 23 percent less chance of having an adverse cardiovascular event as compared with people with poor fitness regimens and inadequate levels of vitamin D.
However, people who had adequate exercise but were vitamin D-deficient, and vice versa, didn’t reduce their risk of suffering from a cardiovascular event.
Fat tissues are responsible for securely storing fat. Recent research postulated that if a person’s fat tissue is somewhat leaky, thereby enabling fatty acids to seep into the bloodstream, the fat blobs can accumulate in other tissues, particularly the muscles and the liver. They then up the risk of developing insulin resistance, which often leads to diabetes.
And diabetes, as we all know, is not good for cardiovascular health.
In a new study that was published in November in the Journal of Applied Physiology, scientists surmised that exercise affects the amount of fat we store, since muscles use fatty acids as fuel. They observed 20 men and women who were overweight but did not have insulin resistance – some of them exercised regularly, some did not engage in any fitness regimen.
The researchers found that in almost all of the volunteers, the fat tissue even after just a single session of exercise showed more amounts of a protein that contributes to the development of more blood vessels.
“More blood vessels in tissue means greater blood flow. There is no doubt that the best thing for metabolic health is to lose weight,” said Jeffrey Horowitz, a professor of movement science at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology.
To discover more news stories about positive developments about health and fitness, visit Healing.news.
Dairy products, specifically milk is one of the beverages still aggressively pushed as a health promoting food, especially relating to strong bones. However, Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and rates of bone loss showed no association with dietary calcium intake in men, according to a recent study in British Journal of Nutrition.
The dairy industy has been hard at work the last 50 years convincing people that pasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese increases bioavailable calcium levels. Many studies have exposed this claim as being totally false. The pasteurization process only creates calcium carbonate, which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent. So what the body does is pull the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process actually causes osteoporosis.
Pasteurized dairy contains too little magnesium needed at the proper ratio to absorb the calcium. Most would agree that a minimum amount of Cal. to Mag Ratio is 2 to 1 and preferably 1 to 1. So milk, at a Cal/Mag ratio of 10 to 1, has a problem. You may put 1200 mg of dairy calcium in your mouth, but you will be lucky to actually absorb a third of it into your system.
Over 99% of the body’s calcium is in the skeleton, where it provides mechanical rigidity. Pasteurized dairy forces a calcium intake lower than normal and the skeleton is used as a reserve to meet needs. Long-term use of skeletal calcium to meet these needs leads to osteoporosis.
For years, US guidelines have advised men and women to take anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day to help prevent fractures and improve bone density. This likely lasted for so long due to an overreliance on studies from the 1970s and 1980s.
Does Not Reduce Bone Loss
Increased dietary calcium intake did not significantly reduce bone loss in the hip, spine or total body in a group of men aged 39-88, reported the research team from University of Auckland.
No correlation was observed between calcium intake and BMD either at baseline, or at the end of the study period. Although dietary calcium intake was inversely related to parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels at baseline, indicators of bone turnover were uncorrelated with calcium intake.
“Bone loss over 2 years was not related to Ca intake at any site, before or after adjustment [forconfounding variables],” wrote first author, Dr. Sarah Bristow.
“Dietary calcium intake was inversely correlated with PTH at baseline, but was not associated with the markers of bone turnover.”
The findings may have important implications for osteoporosis prevention strategies, where increased dietary or supplemental calcium intake has previously been recommended.
“This suggests that efforts to increase calcium intake are unlikely to have an impact on the prevalence of and morbidity from male osteoporosis,” the researchers propose.
“Many of the messages being promulgated at the present time are based on the findings of calcium-balance studies and the short-term effects of high-dose calcium interventions, which do not reflect those of long-term dietary intake.
“Messages to increase dietary calcium could be directing at-risk individuals away from considering interventions and strategies proven to influence long-term fracture risk.”
The study used data from a previous Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) which examined the effect on BMD in 323 males given either 1200 milligrams/day (mg/d), 650 mg/d or placebo of calcium over two years. Data from the placebo group (n=99) were used in longitudinal analysis.
Although the earlier RCT found that the 1200 mg/d dose improved BMD by around 1%, this effect was achieved in the first 6 months, with no further subsequent improvement in the remaining 18 months.
These results prompted the researchers to hypothesise that short-term calcium intakes from high-dose calcium interventions are unrepresentative of longer-term dietary intake. The findings of the recent longitudinal study support this hypothesis.
They are also consistent with previous research indicating a similar lack of association between calcium intake and bone loss in women. Contradictory results?
The researchers suggested the lack of association between calcium intake and BMD might be because the body is able to maintain calcium homeostasis over (long-term) typical dietary ranges (415-1740 mg/d).
Observational study findings appear to contradict supplementation RCTs, which have shown small increases in BMD, coupled with reductions in PTH and bone turnover. However, BMD improvements identified in RCTs have only occurred in the first year with no further cumulative effect.
This may be because short-term high doses of calcium induce a temporary reduction in bone turnover, which does not persist once steady-state calcium homeostasis is restored, suggested the researchers.
“Collectively, evidence from intervention and observational studies suggests long-term calcium intake doesn’t influence the rate of bone loss, but large increases in calcium intake induce a transient change,” they wrote.
The scientists emphasised that the study was conducted in Caucasian males with adequate vitamin D status. Therefore, results may not be applicable to other ethnic groups or those with vitamin D deficiency.
“The present demonstration of an absence of an effect of dietary calcium intake on current bone mass or on bone loss in normal men, together with the absence of an effect of calcium intake on bone turnover, contributes to the body of evidence suggesting that calcium intake, within the range studied here, is not a critical factor in the maintenance of bone health in older adults” the authors concluded.
6 WAYS TO BUILD STRONG BONES
1. Eat calcium rich foods
Eat foods high in calcium. The best food sources are non-pasteurized raw dairy sources such as raw milk/yogurt, as well as bony fish, such as sardines. Leafy green veg such as kale, broccoli and spinach are also rich in calcium. Dried herbs and dried fruits such as figs and currants are also good choices. Seeds such as sesame, chia and flax are also rich sources of calcium. Also, enjoy foods that contain sulfur such as garlic and onions.
2. Food selections/combinations are critical Try not to eat whole grains and calcium-rich foods at the same time. Whole grains contain a substance that binds with calcium and prevents proper absorption. Some foods that contain compounds such as oxalic or phytic acids, such as sweet potatoes, beans, rhubarb, celery and beets, can also decrease the amount of calcium that’s absorbed when eaten at the same time as calcium-rich foods.
3. Avoid the causes of mineral excretion Pass on phosphate-containing foods such as soft drinks. Phosphorus causes the body to excrete calcium. Limit or avoid high-protein animal foods. A diet high in protein causes calcium to be excreted from your body. Decrease caffeine consumption. People who smoke have significantly lower bone density, while drinking alcohol can also prevent your bones from absorbing the maximum nutrients from your food.
4. Get more Sunlight and Vitamin D Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Although some is found in oily fish, our main source comes from the effect of sunlight on your skin. It’s estimated that half of us have a deficiency because we don’t get outside enough or because we always use sunblock. It is especially important to maximize sun exposure between May and September to keep vitamin D levels topped up. Just 10 minutes of sunlight a day on bare arms and your face can cut your risk of bone fractures by a third. A half hour exposing your torso is equivalent to roughly 10,000 units of Vitamin D.
5. The right exercise
Another vital way to boost your bones is weight-bearing exercise –basically anything that has you upright and using your body weight. Good choices include squatting, rope skipping, aerobics, plyometrics, dancing or brisk walking. “Research shows that if you don’t exercise you end up weeing out all the calcium you take in instead of storing it in your bones,” warns Professor Dawn Skelton, an aging and health specialist at Glasgow Caledonian University. “Ideally we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. “Put simply, the more hours we spend on our feet, the fewer bone breakages we should have in later life.”
6. Avoid Medications and Medical Therapies Acid-blocking medications used for heartburn and other gastrointestinal conditions can block the absorption of calcium through the stomach walls. Stomach acids break down food during the digestive process, allowing the nutrients to become absorbed into your body. Medications designed to stop acid production or decrease the amount of acids present in your stomach can have a negative effect on calcium.
(Natural News) What makes you happy? The answer to this question could be different for every one because happiness is relative. But one thing’s certain: Increasing your serotonin levels can boost your mood and keep you from sulking and wallowing because of a bad day. Most commonly known as the “happy hormone” serotonin does more than boost your mood. It also has other health benefits, which is why having more of this will make you happy and healthy at the same time. Here are ways to boost your serotonin levels:
Eat some animal protein – Feelings of sadness oftentimes feel like they’re just in our heads. Sometimes when you feel bad, you think that your brain (or heart) is responsible but know that thoughts and feelings are more than that. These are results of physiological reactions that happen inside your body. An amino acid called tryptophan help produce serotonin so you can start feeling happy. Animal protein is an excellent source of tryptophan so include more chicken, fish, eggs, beef, dairy, even lamb in your diet. Whey and egg protein are scientifically-proven to increase this amino acid in the brain.
Get out and enjoy the sun – Natural light have a positive effect on your mood. Sunlight triggers serotonin synthesis. The brighter sunlight you are exposed to, the more serotonin the body produces. This is a possible explanation why people feel gloomy on rainy weather.
Get enough vitamin D – Vitamin D helps in converting tryptophan into serotonin. You can get this from sun exposure or taking supplements.
Add more seafood to your diet – Cod liver oil and marine fat contain vitamin D and long-chain omega-3s that are helpful in boosting the serotonin production in the brain. Ample amounts will also help transport it to the neurons efficiently.
Try some more curry – Curry has turmeric, which is considered as a potent anti-depressant. This natural mood-lifter helps increase serotonin in the brain.
Perk up – There’s a reason why most people need coffee to jolt them out of lethargy. Caffeine, according to some research, has a positive effect on the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Break some sweat – Exercise is known to be effective in increasing serotonin levels because motor neurons activated during physical activity boost the release of serotonin. Furthermore, regular exercise will spike tryptophan levels in the brain, which means more serotonin for you.
Munch on more nuts – Nuts contain tryptophan, so the more of these you eat, the happier you should be. Also, nuts can help prevent cancer, heart disease and respiratory ailments.
Drink green tea – Drinking green tea is relaxing, no doubt. But it’s also good for the mood. It contains 1-theanine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels. It also has a powerful antioxidant that prevents brain damage.
Now that you know that there’s more to feeling happy, you can easily find ways to pull yourself out of a rut and start smiling.
(Natural News) Excessive sunscreen use might be playing a major role in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and related adverse health conditions, an analysis published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association revealed. According to researchers from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University, California, vitamin D prevalence in the U.S. showed a significant increase from 45 percent to 75 percent over the last 25 years. The research team also noted that 95 percent of African Americans have inadequate vitamin D levels.
The research team noted that using thick, highly-protective sunscreen may be behind the reason in the prevalent vitamin D deficiency, as the chemicals block the beneficial sunlight from reaching the skin and stimulating vitamin D production. The health experts stressed that sunscreens containing SPF 15 or higher diminished vitamin D production by 99 percent. According to the research team, the vitamin provided anti-inflammatory effects and is essential in the body’s immune function. The health experts cautioned that this lack in vitamin D could lead to the onset of a host of adverse medical conditions. However, the researchers noted that simple brisk walking and eating foods high in vitamin D are enough to make up for vitamin deficiency.
“People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D. While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D,” said study co-author Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer in MedicalNewsToday.com.
Low vitamin D may lead to a plethora of diseases
Inadequate vitamin D levels may trigger the onset of various adverse health conditions such as diabetes and certain types of cancer. An analysis conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Warwick, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire Coventry in the U.K. revealed that vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased odds of bladder cancer. As part of the review, the research team analyzed data from seven clinical studies with cohort populations between 112 to 1125 participants. According to the experts, five out of seven studies found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and higher bladder cancer risk. “More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells. As vitamin D is cheap and safe, its potential use in cancer prevention is exciting and could potentially impact on the lives of many people,” said lead author Dr. Rosemary Bland. The findings were presented at the annual conference of the Society for Endocrinology.
German researchers also found that inadequate vitamin D levels may increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the German Cancer Research Center examined participants aged 50 to 70 years old and found that the risk of all-cause mortality was significantly higher in those who had vitamin D deficiency. Another German study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that low vitamin D levels were associated with increased odds of prostate, lung, colorectal and other types of cancer in middle-aged and senior patients. (Discover more science news on nutrients and disease prevention at Prevention.news.)
Vitamin D deficiency was also found to exacerbate disease-related complications in patients with type-2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research. As part of the study, researchers examined 139 type-2 diabetes patients and compared them with 144 otherwise healthy patients. The research team found that the prevalence and severity of diabetic retinopathy was more pronounced in patients with low vitamin D levels.
(Natural News) Vitamin D intake may help keep common colds and flu at bay, British researchers found. Various studies have previously established that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, and the recent analysis further emphasizes the vitamin’s role in boosting the immune system. To test this, researchers at the Queen Mary University of London pooled data from 25 separate trials with a total cohort population of 11,321 participants.
The research team found that vitamin D supplementation provided a modest protective effect against respiratory infections. Lead researcher Dr. Adrian Martineau said vitamin D supplements helped reduce the risk of developing respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu by 10 percent. Participants suffering vitamin D deficiency were shown to benefit more from supplementation.
According to researchers, vitamin D supplementation may help prevent respiratory infection in one out of 33 individuals. In contrast, flu vaccination may prevent infection in one out of 40 individuals. This suggests that vitamin D supplementation could be a more ideal preventive against respiratory conditions. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.
Vitamin D’s protective effects seen in more studies
Vitamin D supplementation helped reduce respiratory infections in elderly population, according to a 2016 study. As part of the study, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus examined 107 patients with an average age of 84 years old. The patients were given either higher monthly vitamin D doses or lower daily vitamin D doses. The study revealed that patients who had higher doses exhibited a 40 percent reduction in acute respiratory diseases after a year. However, researchers stressed that the findings warrant further research.
“This finding requires a confirmatory trial…This is a potentially life-saving discovery. There is very little in a doctor’s arsenal to battle ARI, especially since most are viral infections where antibiotics don’t work. But vitamin D seems able to potentially prevent these infections. If our results are confirmed by a larger trial, high dose vitamin D, ideally using daily dosing to minimize fall risk, has the potential for substantial public health benefit through ARI prevention for the large and growing population of long term care residents,” wrote lead author Dr. Adit Ginde in ScienceDaily.com. The finding were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Another study revealed that higher vitamin D intake may cut the risk of respiratory tract infections. To carry out the study, researchers examined 140 volunteers who were given either vitamin D supplements or placebo. The researchers found that patients in the vitamin D group had a 25 percent decrease in respiratory tract infections at the end of the study period compared with those in the placebo group. The research team also found that patients who took vitamin D supplements reduced their antibiotic use by nearly 50 percent.
“Our research can have important implications for patients with recurrent infections or a compromised immune defense, such as a lack of antibodies, and can also help to prevent the emerging resistance to antibiotics that come from overuse. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be anything to support the idea that vitamin D would help otherwise healthy people with normal, temporary respiratory tract infections,” said researcher Dr. Peter Bergman in MedicalNewsToday.com. The results appeared in the journal BMJ Open.
A small study published in 2010 also revealed that vitamin D supplementation helped reduce the incidence of influenza A in children. To assess this, Japanese researchers examined more than 3oo children and found that the incidence of influenza-A infection was only 10.8 percent in those who took vitamin D supplements, compared with 18.6 percent in the control group. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
You can take better care of your health by reading the articles found in Cures.news.
Depression is real, however the treatment approach offered by the medical/pharmaceutical establishment is most often a prescription for a lifetime of dependence on expensive, mind-altering pills which make life bearable but numb the joy of living as well as the pain. Still, people are suffering, and an understanding of the root causes of depression and anxiety can go a long way in helping people to truly overcome them.
Mental health is greatly affected by the quality of foods we eat, and more research is leading us to understand that the digestive system in the human body functions as a type of second brain, where emotional information is stored and processed. If the digestive system is constantly bombarded by inflammatory foods and the myriad chemicals in our environment, the system is incapable of performing properly and efficiently.
Under the umbrella of diet, a major factor in mental health is gut health, specifically the health of the microbiome of healthy bacteria which exists inside each of us, functioning as a both a system of detoxification or a system of toxification, depending on its health.
Consumption of probiotic foods and supplements greatly enhance the health of the microbiota, while consumption of chemical laden processed foods, GMO foods, exposure to chemicals such as glyphosate, and especially sugary foods serves to feed and increase the production of negative bacteria within the body, leading to poor mental health. A healthy is critical to a healthy mind.
Lack of Sunlight
Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly understood to be highly detrimental to mental health, as is highlighted in areas of the world with lower exposure to sunlight, such as the Pacific Northwest of the United States, where millions of people can expect to suffer from what is now known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a fact of life in many areas, and is effectively treated medically with high dose supplementation of vitamin D.
“Research has shown having a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) can raise your risk for depression by as much as 85 percent, compared to having a vitamin D level greater than 30 ng/mL. A number of studies have also confirmed that adequate levels of vitamin D can help alleviate symptoms of depression. One of the mechanisms is thought to be vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties, which again hints at inflammation being a root cause of depression.” [Source]
Exposure to sunlight is crucial to sound mental health, for the body naturally produces vitamin D when it receives ample sunlight, however there are many other benefits to receiving abundant natural light.
“According to a paper published in the journal Dermato Endocrinology, a large number of light-absorbing molecules (chromophores) found in the different layers of your skin absorb and interact with ultraviolet rays, producing a number of complex and synergistic effects.”[Source]
Perhaps the most important, yet most misunderstood factor in mental health arises from a sort of spiritual anemia, which is in part, a cultural malaise arising from a lack of interpersonal and cosmic connection in our technologically advanced modern world.
Evidence is mounting that profound spiritual experiences can turn depression and anxiety around in no time at all, and many forward-thinking researchers are exploring the effectiveness of psychedelic experiences which can be a surefire way to experience a direct connection to the infinite and cosmic nature of being alive and human.
Psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, are the most talked about psychedelic for quickly achieving stable mental health, although many other natural and synthetic substances are known to trigger the kind of spiritual experiences which can directly and positively impact one’s worldview, leading to a healthier sense of self and purpose in this world.
Ayahuasca, the Amazonian shamanic medicine, is revered for it’s ability to release past trauma and achieve a deeper understanding of the self. Iboga, a natural entheogen from Western Africa, is incredibly affective at treating depression and anxiety through a journey which allows one to meet and make peace with their own soul and their past. Additionally, chemicals like ketamine and ecstasy (MDMA) are also known to create an experience of connection and spiritual peace. All of these medicines are illegal in the United States.
It is estimated that some 15 million American adults are affected by depression, and that some 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety. These outstanding statistics are shadowed by the disturbing fact that one in six Americans are on antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs, and when drugs are prescribed to a patient, doctors commonly ignore contributing factors and causes of poor mental health, advising their patients to take pills as the main way to cope with poor mental health.
If doctors focused instead on the causes of poor mental health, offering sound advice on diet, advising people to get more sunlight, and most importantly, steered patients in the direction of spiritual wellness, our society as a whole would greatly benefit.
Conventional health authorities claim getting a flu shot each year is the best way to ward off influenza. But where’s the actual science backing up that claim?
If you’ve repeatedly fallen for this annual propaganda campaign, you may be surprised to find the medical literature suggests vitamin D may actually be a FAR more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least a decade.
Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying CAUSE of influenza.
His hypothesis1 was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.2 It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.3
The following year, the largest nationally representative study4 of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu. In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:
“The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency.”
Vitamin D Works Better Than Flu Vaccine If Your Levels Are Low
Since then, a number of studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review5,6 of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu.
Overall, the studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. As reported by Time Magazine:7
“… [P]eople who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …
For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say.”
Like Cannell before them, the researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that “[t]his may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body’s natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …”8
According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.9Another statistic showing vitamin D is a more effective strategy than flu vaccine is the “number needed to treat” (NNT).
Overall, one person would be spared from influenza for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement (NNT = 33), whereas 40 people have to receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent one case of the flu (NNT = 40).
Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. In other words, if you’re vitamin D deficient to begin with, vitamin D supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine.
Optimizing Vitamin D May Be Your Best Defense Against Influenza
In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available. Your diet also plays a significant role of course, as it lays the foundation for good immune function.
A high-sugar diet is a sure-fire way to diminish your body’s innate ability to fight off infections of all kinds by radically impairing the functioning of your immune system.
However, I do not agree that fortifying more processed foods with vitamin D is the best solution, although I realize it could potentially have a more widespread impact among people who remain unaware of the beneficial health effects of sunlight in general.
I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is only recommended in cases when you simply cannot obtain sufficient amounts of sensible sun exposure.
It’s also important to point out that, contrary to what’s reported by most mainstream media, including NPR report above, most people cannot optimize their vitamin D levels by getting the recommended 600 IUs of vitamin D from fortified foods. The dose you need really depends on your current blood level of vitamin D.
If it’s very low, you may need 8,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The only way to know how much you need is to get tested at least once or twice each year.
If you’ve been supplementing for some time and your levels are still below 45 ng/mL, you then know you have to increase your dose further. If using an oral supplement, also make sure to boost your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake, as these nutrients help optimize vitamin D levels.
Other Studies Supporting Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Influenza
In a study published in 2010,10 researchers investigated the effect of vitamin D on the incidence of seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 430 children, half of which were given 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day while the other half received a placebo.
Overall, children in the treatment group were 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu. According to the authors: “This study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.”
Another study11 published that same year concluded that infection-fighting T-cells need help from vitamin D in order to activate. This is yet another mechanism that helps explain why vitamin D is so effective against infections.
When a T cell recognizes foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, it sends activating signals to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene.
The VDR gene then starts producing a protein that binds vitamin D in the T cell. A downstream effect of this is PLC-gamma1 protein production, which subsequently enables the T cell to fight the infection. At the time, lead researcher Carsten Geisler told Food Consumer:12
“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or “antenna” known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D. This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”
With that understanding, it’s no wonder flu shots don’t work. Flu vaccines do absolutely nothing to address the underlying problem of vitamin D deficiency, which is effectively hindering your immune system from working properly.
In fact, flu vaccines tend to deteriorate your immune function, and their side effects can be significant.
‘Gold Standard’ Studies Ignored by Mainstream Media
The gold standard of scientific analysis, the so-called Cochrane Database Review, has also issued several reports between 2006 and 2012, all of which decimate the claim that flu vaccinations are the most effective prevention method available. In 2010, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusion, which was completely ignored by mainstream media:13
“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration).
An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines …”
So, despite the fact that 15 of the 36 studies included were biased by industry interests, they still couldn’t come up with evidence supporting the conventional claim that flu vaccines are the best and most effective prevention available against influenza!
Scientific Reviews Show Vaccinating Children and Elderly Is Ineffective
Cochrane has issued several reports addressing the effectiveness of flu vaccines on infants and the elderly — two groups that tend to be the most targeted by flu vaccine advertising — and all have had negative findings. For children:
1.A large-scale, systematic review14 of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children under two. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
2.In 2008, another Cochrane review15 again concluded that “little evidence is available” that the flu vaccine is effective for children under the age of two. Even more disturbingly, the authors stated that:
“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. If immunization in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”
3.In a 2012 review,16 Cochrane concluded that “in children aged from two years, nasal spray vaccines made from weakened influenza viruses were better at preventing illness caused by the influenza virus than injected vaccines made from the killed virus. Neither type was particularly good at preventing “flu-like illness” caused by other types of viruses. In children under the age of two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.”
The available evidence with regards to protecting the elderly is equally abysmal.
4.In 2010, Cochrane concluded that:17 “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.”
5.Cochrane also reviewed whether or not vaccinating health care workers can help protect the elderly patients with whom they work. In conclusion, the authors stated that:18 “[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.”
Annual Flu Vaccinations May Raise Risk of More Serious Infections
Other recent studies have shown that with each successive annual flu vaccination, the protection afforded by the vaccine appears to diminish.19, 20 Research published in 2014 concluded that vaccine-induced protection against influenza was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.21 The flu vaccine may also increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections.
Compared to children who do not get an annual flu vaccine, those who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza.23
Research also shows that statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may undermine your immune system’s ability to respond to the flu vaccine.24,25,26 When you consider the low efficacy rate of the flu vaccine in any given year, getting vaccinated if you’re on a statin may well be a moot point.
Independent science reviews have also concluded that influenza vaccine does not appear to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.27,28,29,30
Other Foods and Supplements That Send Pathogens Packin’
Besides vitamin D, there are a number of other foods and supplements that can be beneficial for colds and influenza, including the following:
Vitamin D Is Important for Optimal Health and Disease Prevention Year-Round
In related news, researchers are also homing in on how vitamin D may help protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The video above discusses research33 showing vitamin D extends lifespan in nematode worms by 30 percent and helps slow or even reverse accumulation of beta amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disease and many other chronic diseases. As noted in a recent issue of Orthomolecular Medicine News:34 “Research on the health benefits of vitamin D continues at a rapid pace. There were 4,356 papers published in 2015 with vitamin D in the title or abstract and 4,388 in 2016 …” Among some of the most impactful studies are ones demonstrating:
•Health benefits from sun exposure unrelated to vitamin D production. One recent review concluded benefits of sun exposure includes lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia, myopia, macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. My belief is that the majority of these benefits are due to the near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths.
According to the author: “The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve [vitamin D] concentrations of 30 ng/mL or higher … and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.” Also, while intermittent sun exposure is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, “the risks of these cancers is dwarfed by the reduced risk of internal cancers from sun exposure,” William Grant, Ph.D. writes.
•Benefits of higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy. Research demonstrates preterm births steadily decrease as vitamin D levels increase among pregnant women. In one study, raising vitamin D blood concentrations from 20 to 40 ng/mL decreased preterm births by 59 percent.
•Reduction in cancer risk from vitamin D supplementation. One pooled analysis showed that women with higher levels of vitamin D had much lower incidence rates of cancer — from a 2 percent per year cancer incidence rate at 18 ng/mL to 0.4 percent at 63 ng/mL.
Overall, maintaining a vitamin D serum level of 45 to 60 ng/mL year-round may be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to safeguard yourself against chronic disease and acute infections. When it comes to seasonal colds and influenza, the rate of protection you get from vitamin D is actually greater than what you’d get from a flu vaccination, and you don’t have to worry about potential side effects either — which in the case of the flu vaccine can be far worse than the original complaint.
While death and complete disability from a flu vaccine may be rare, so is dying from the flu itself. I strongly recommend weighing the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect of the flu vaccine relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed with the flu. Remember, most deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to bacterial pneumonia, and these days, bacterial pneumonia can be effectively treated with advanced medical care and therapies like respirators and parenteral antibiotics.
The Role of Vitamin D in Disease Prevention
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. Dr. Robert Heaney is the research director of GrassrootsHealth and is part of the design of the D*action Project as well as analysis of the research findings.
GrassrootsHealth shows how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”