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Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Jonathan M. Mansbach, MD; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH. Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National health and nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(4):384-390.
Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of medicine, Aurora (Dr Ginde); and Department of medicine, Children's Hospital Boston (Dr Mansbach), and Department of Emergency medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (Dr Camargo), Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Background Recent studies suggest a role for vitamin D in innate immunity, including the prevention of respiratory tract infections (RTIs). We hypothesize that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels are inversely associated with self-reported recent upper RTI (URTI).
And the article from Scientific American:
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to More colds and flu Scientific American (Online) Feb 23, 2009
The content above (which is only a fraction of what is available in the scientific literature) has some interesting implications, one of which is nicely presented in the following paper published in the Virology Journal with regard to patterns of influenza in populations:
John J Cannell(1) , Michael Zasloff(2), Cedric F Garland(3), Robert Scrag(4) and Edward Giovannucci(5). On the epidemiology of influenza. Virology Journal 2008, 5:29.
(1) Department of Psychiatry, Atascadero State Hospital, 10333 El Camino Real, Atascadero, CA 93423, USA. (2) Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA. (3) Department of Family and Preventive medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA. (4) Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. (5) Departments of nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public health, Boston, MA, USA.
The epidemiology of influenza swarms with incongruities, incongruities exhaustively detailed by the late British epidemiologist, Edgar Hope-Simpson. He was the first to propose a parsimonious theory explaining why influenza is, as Gregg said, "seemingly unmindful of traditional infectious disease behavioral patterns." Recent discoveries indicate vitamin D upregulates the endogenous antibiotics of innate immunity and suggest that the incongruities explored by Hope-Simpson may be secondary to the epidemiology of vitamin D deficiency. We identify - and attempt to explain - nine influenza conundrums: (1) Why is influenza both seasonal and ubiquitous and where is the virus between epidemics? (2) Why are the epidemics so explosive? (3) Why do they end so abruptly? (4) What explains the frequent coincidental timing of epidemics in countries of similar latitude? (5) Why is the serial interval obscure? (6) Why is the secondary attack rate so low? (7) Why did epidemics in previous ages spread so rapidly, despite the lack of modern transport? (8) Why does experimental inoculation of seronegative humans fail to cause illness in all the volunteers? (9) Why has influenza mortality of the aged not declined as their vaccination rates increased? We review recent discoveries about vitamin D's effects on innate immunity, human studies attempting sick-to-well transmission, naturalistic reports of human transmission, studies of serial interval, secondary attack rates, and relevant animal studies. We hypothesize that two factors explain the nine conundrums: vitamin D's seasonal and population effects on innate immunity, and the presence of a subpopulation of "good infectors." If true, our revision of Edgar Hope-Simpson's theory has profound implications for the prevention of influenza.
What the authors are saying is that a more primary underlying factor behind influenza is vitamin D deficiency and not what is commonly believed as a "circulating virus", since all the available facts regarding influenza outbreaks and epidemiology cannot be sufficiently explained by "a circulating virus" alone.
And in the conclusion of the above study there occurs:
Compelling epidemiological evidence indicates vitamin D deficiency is the "seasonal stimulus" . Furthermore, recent evidence confirms that lower respiratory tract infections are more frequent, sometimes dramatically so, in those with low 25(OH)D levels [90-92]. Very recently, articles in mainstream medical journals have emphasized the compelling reasons to promptly diagnose and adequately treat vitamin D deficiency, deficiencies that may be the rule, rather than the exception, at least during flu season [40,41]. Regardless of vitamin D's effects on innate immunity, activated vitamin D is a pluripotent pleiotropic seco-steroid with as many mechanisms of action as the 1,000 human genes it regulates . Evidence continues to accumulate of vitamin D's involvement in a breathtaking array of human disease and death. [40,41]
What the authors are concluding is that the "seasonal stimulus" is not actually the "circulating virus" but vitamin D deficiency. In light of all the above, you may want to increase your intake of vitamin D in general (you can take up to 50mcg or 2000IU daily as a safe upper level), and especially in the winter season.
There are other useful articles on vitamin D on this site which you should read, and some of which are listed further below.
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