Last year I wrote a number of posts relating to mechanisms related to mucosal immune defences, in particular the innate immune defences and how we as Nutritional Therapists may advise our patients of evidence based strategies. This paper out in the open access journal Plos One adds further validity to the vitamin D recommendations I proposed.

Declining serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D seen in the fall and winter as distance increases from the equator may be a factor in the seasonal increased prevalence of influenza and other viral infections.[1]

This paper in PLOS Biology describes how almost 200 adults had their serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured, without knowing what was been investigated.

One hundred ninety-eight participants, 85 men and 113 women, with an age range of 20–88, were enrolled in the study.

The researcher found that people with fair skin, lean body mass and who supplemented with vitamin D had the highest levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. People who achieved 38ng/ml or higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D level had a remarkable 50% reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections and a significant reduction in the number of days ill (p<0.0001).

Atishoo – that’s D’ one!

Friday, 23 April 2010 by

Vitamin D Vs Influenza A

Lets face it, right now we are still recovering from the various revelations about the novel variant H1N1 or swine flu non event (in terms of pandemic effects) to be looking to see if we can manage the more common seasonal influenza. Plus spring is in the air and we all know that colds and the flu viruses seem to be less vigorous during the time of the year we actually see the sun!

However a rather neat randomised trial to see if Vitamin D supplementation had any prevention effect in school children adds further weight to the evolving understanding of its innate immune activation potential.[1]


Like previous epidemic and pandemic diseases, 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) may pose an increased risk of severe illness in pregnant women. To see if there were clinical experiences that matched this assumption a Californian investigation by their Department of Health reviewed demographic and clinical data reported from April 23 through August 11, 2009, for all H1N1-infected, reproductive-age women who were hospitalised or died. These included non-pregnant women, pregnant women, and postpartum women (those who had delivered ≤2 weeks previously).[1]

H1N1 – 3 Key Questions

Sunday, 29 November 2009 by

cover_natureQuestion 1 – How does it kill?

H1N1 is a unique virus and unlike seasonal flu which damages the upper airway cells, H1N1 Novel Influenza damages the terminal air sacs called alveoli. These are found in the lower part of lungs.

Secondly a co-infection with bacteria such as S.aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae has presented in about one third of recorded deaths to date. The others appear at this stage to have succumbed to the virus alone. There does however, tend to be other underlying health problems such as diabetes, overweight, cardiovascular problems etc. The damage to the lung tissues involves the rupture of the alveoli allowing blood to fill the spaces usually reserved for gas exchanges.

Pain Killers Adversely Inhibit Vaccination Benefits

Monday, 16 November 2009 by | Comments: 2

622804The questions concerning the benefits Vs risks of vaccination in light of the recent global approach to H1N1 (novel influenza) vaccine recommendations has thrown this area of medicine under a very bright spotlight. Leaving aside the question ‘to vaccinate or not’ a recent article has raised a simple and useful question. If I take a non steroidal pain killer (NSAID’s) to reduce post vaccine discomfort, or are ingesting them for other reasons does it affect my vaccine promoted immune response?

coverThe incidence of gastric events in normal seasonal flu is very low, almost never. The H1N1 swine Flu virus has differentiated itself from the seasonal flu not only in its speed of migration around the world, but also in the development of gut related events.

A new article  in the International journal GUT [1] explains how a well set up investigational group based in Chile – a country well exposed to the virus, followed the first 500 confirmed patients who were infected with the influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus back in May 2009.

H1N1 (Swine Flu) What Does it Mean This Winter?

Monday, 21 September 2009 by | Comments: 1

ECDC_logoThe European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently surveyed H1N1 (Swine Flu) epidemiological 2009 data for 28 countries, finding that 51% of all deaths have been among people aged 20-49 years, and only 12% were among people over 60 years of age.

This is striking, as it is a near-perfect reverse of normal flu trends, and mirrors what was seen, demographically, in 1918. While the  President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have tried to factor in such trends, it is extremely difficult to know how influenza dynamics, illnesses and death rates may vary if transmission and illness is primarily among young adults.

logo-HHP_mastheadThe conservative Harvard Medical School in the USA normally promotes micronutrient intake being derived from food stuffs alone. The Health Publications Bulletin out in Sept 2009 says that from the perspective of Vitamin D food sources may be inadequate and that supplementary intake is required to meet physiological optimisation. (See Video)

vaccination imageEach year the respective medical authorities in the western world recommend the influenza vaccine and who should receive it. Since 1999 the age groups have been expanded to include greater numbers of people.  Whilst the UK has a more conservative approach to seasonal flu in terms of age, in the USA virtually the only groups not recommended to receive the vaccine are those aged between 19 and 40 without any ongoing health problem.

Vit D Balances the Innate Immune Response

logoA new study has concluded that one key part of the immune system, the ability of vitamin D to regulate anti-bactericidal proteins, is so important that it has been conserved through almost 60 million years of evolution and is shared only by primates, including humans – but no other known animal species. The genetic material – called an Alu short interspersed element – is part of what used to be thought of as “junk DNA” and makes up more than 90 percent of the human genome.