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Vitamin D to prevent flu

Vitamin D better at preventing flu

Doctors from Japan have found that the risk of children suffering from flu can be halved if they get a dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is naturally produced by the human body when exposed to direct sunlight, and unlike vaccines has no significant side effects, and can be several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines.

Only one in ten children, aged six to 15 years, taking vitamin D in a clinical trial came down with flu, compared with one in five given a dummy tablet. The lead author of the study told The Times newspaper that vitamin D was more effective than vaccines in preventing flu.

Vitamin D was found to be even more effective when the comparison left out children who were already given extra vitamin D by their parents, outside the trial. Taking this vitamin was then shown to reduce the risk of flu to a third of what it would otherwise be.

Study details:

354 children in total took part in the trial, which took place during the winter of 2008-09.

The trial, which was double blind, randomized, and fully controlled scientifically, was conducted by doctors and scientists from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan.

The children were given a daily dose of 1200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D over a period of three months. In the first month children in the group taking the vitamin became ill just as often as those taking the dummy tablet. But by the second month, when the vitamin level in the children's blood was higher, the advantage of the vitamin was clear.

The scientists, writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, say that the anti-viral drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir reduce risk of flu infection by 8 per cent in children who have been exposed to infection, compared with a whopping 50 per cent or greater reduction with vitamin D.

These new findings also support a theory that low blood levels of vitamin D occurring in winter are why flu epidemics generally peak between December and March.

Vitamin D activates the innate immune system, enabling the body to produce several proteins such as defensin and cathelicidin which trigger cell activity and disable viruses.

Anti-viral drugs and vaccines are known to contain toxic substances, for example there is established evidence that thimerosal, a mercury solution that is used as a preservative in vaccines, is directly linked to neuro-developmental disorders such as autism in children.

Vitamin D however, is a natural, health-promoting super-nutrient. This remarkable vitamin that is primarily obtained from sunshine is known to be a key nutrient in halting and preventing disease. It has been found not only to protect bone health, but to reduce risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses, including various bacterial as well as viral infections.

Research paper details:

Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am. J. Clinical nutrition, May 2010; 91: 1255 - 1260.

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