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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Vitamin D and H1N1 Swine Flu

The following is part of the Vitamin D Council's latest newsletter, written by Dr John Cannell
Gary: If you have been reading my blog, you will be aware that I have been running an educational campaign for several years to highlight the health benefits of vitamin D. This has included challenging sun avoidance policies by the likes of the Cancer Society and the Health Sponsorship Council. Now we are seeing the hysteria about influenza and the big bucks vaccination and Tamiflu programmes. No mention is made of the cheap and effective ways we can protect ourselves and our children which includes cheap vitamin D supplementation.


So far, Swine flu, H1N1, has killed thirty-six children in U.S. and analysis of CDC data indicates Vitamin D deficient children at higher risk of death.

I’m not sure I can do this, watch our children die this winter from what may be a preventable disease, influenza, I’m not sure I’m strong enough. A few minutes ago, the CDC issued a report on Swine flu deaths among children; thirty-six U.S. children dead so far this season and the season hasn’t started yet. The dead children were much more likely to be Vitamin D deficient; but the CDC did not realize they discovered this. However, anyone familiar with the Vitamin D literature will recognize it.
The clue: almost two-thirds of our dead children had epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or other neurodevelopmental conditions like mental retardation. What do we know of these neurological conditions? All are associated with childhood Vitamin D deficiency; I won’t bore you with the references but anyone who has ever cared for these children know it; anyone who has studied these diseases on Medline knows it; anyone who has one of these kids know it; these kids just don’t go in the sun very much. If they do live at home and go outside, parents use sunblock because the child is so vulnerable, never robust. In addition to sunlight deprivation, many of these kids take anticonvulsant drugs, which lower Vitamin D levels.
One more thing, thirty-six dead kids so far this season and the season has not yet started. Over the last 4 years, around 100 American kids have died of the flu during flu season; this year the toll is 36 before the season has started.

The above racial differences apply to hospitalization rates for H1N1 in Boston and Chicago. It looks as if Vitamin D is a big factor in H1N1. During the 1918-1919 pandemic, Blacks actually had lower illness rates, not higher, perhaps because they had antibodies from previous H1N1 infection in 1916 and 1917. It worried me to read that the 1918 H1N1 was circulating in the world for several years before it devastated that same world in 1918-1919. The same could be true now, that is, this H1N1 may be relatively benign (only kill 50,000 Americans/year) for several years, infect more Blacks than whites, then erupt into a merciless killer in 2011, when Blacks will be relatively protected because of their higher antibodies from higher infection rates in 2009 and 2010.
American Children Vitamin D Deficient

In the above paper, Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the NIH (led by Dr. Jared Reis) looked at 3500 American teenagers and found teenagers with the lowest Vitamin D levels, compared to the highest, were five times more likely to be obese, 2.5 times more likely to be hypertensive, 2.5 times more likely to have elevated blood sugar, and about 4 times more likely to have the metabolic syndrome. Only 25% of the teenagers had levels higher than 26 ng/ml while 25% had levels lower than 15 ng/ml.

Dr. Jahi Kumar and colleagues at Albert Einstein School of Medicine looked at more than 6,000 American kids (age one to 21) who were carefully selected to be representative of the average American child. Nine percent of the kids had 25(OH)D levels less than 15 ng/ml and 70% (representing 58 million kids) had levels less than 30 ng/ml. The older the child, the blacker the child, the more TV and video games, the fatter the child, the higher the chance the child is deficient. Tragically, 59% of black teenage girls had levels less than 15 ng/ml.
Children with low levels were more likely to have abnormal blood lipids, high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormally elevate parathyroid hormone levels, all risks for future cardiovascular disease. Only 4% of American children take recommended doses of Vitamin D supplements, surely a failure of U.S. pediatricians.
Here is the link to the Vitamin D Council - your authoritative source of information about Vitamin D and health.
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