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Vitamin D and Influenza

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10/01/2010 - Howdy! I recently ran across an article entitled Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza type A in schoolchildren (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2010). It provided some interesting information with important practical application.

Prior to this study, no rigorously designed clinical trial has evaluated the relation between vitamin D and physician diagnosed seasonal influenza. This study was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing vitamin D3 supplements (1200 IU/day) with placebo in schoolchildren. This meant that there was very little cheating or fudging on the data.

Here are the highlights: Serum concentration of vitamin D decrease by half of summer levels. During a previous randomized controlled trial performed to determine whether vitamin D could prevent osteoporosis, cold and flu symptoms were reported three times less often in the vitamin D group than in the placebo group (interesting). "In this randomized clinical trial, daily supplementation with 1200 IU vitamin D3 in school children between December and March showed a significant preventative effect against influenza A. Vitamin D may soften the clinical symptoms and signs of influenza by reducing cytokine secretion." (Important!) Taking vitamin D3 supplements for one year in a dose up to 2000 IU per day in schoolchildren has been shown to be safe. It takes 3 months to reach a steady state of vitamin D concentration by supplementation. "In this study, vitamin D3 significantly reduced the incidence of influenza A within 60 days. Also noted, "Asthma attacks were significantly suppressed by vitamin D3." Their conclusion was that their study showed that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter season may reduce the incidence of influenza A.

Now let's expand this a bit to include adults. Our geographical location is considered a northern latitude state. As a result, we do get less sunshine in the winter months and this has been shown in studies to deplete our vitamin D. It should also be noted that being in an office all day will deplete vitamin D if one does not get out much due to long working hours. Some say adults should supplement regularly throughout the year (especially older individuals). If you don't use supplements, you may consider taking vitamin D3, especially before December.

Well gotta go. Until next time, see ya !!

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