Bonus Post! Vitamin D and Elderberry for Influenza (H1N1 Infection)
The following bonus post is a guest article written by my friend Sylvia Timberlake. Sylvia works for one of my favorite supplement companies, and one of the best companies in my opinion, Vital Nutrients. Their attention and commitment to quality assurance can be found throughout the company, which means a lot in a mostly unregulated industry. For example, in the last couple of months, Vital Nutrients rejected two raw materials due to highly toxic solvent residues. How did they know? Because they take the extra step to guarantee clean raw materials and high-quality products. Would your supplement company do that? It’s unlikely and uncommon practice.
By the way, they have an excellent and informative newsletter you can subscribe to at the Vital Nutrient website.
I hope this post helps calm you about the H1N1 virus that has so many people frightened these days, and that you can use this information for your own health and peace of mind. The post is a little technical, but worth it for you. Without further ado, here’s Sylvia!
Vitamin D has been in the news a great deal lately.
Last year the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) started a study investigating the role of vitamin D in severe seasonal influenza. With the recent outbreaks of swine flu, PHAC confirmed that it would be adapting this study to investigate the role of vitamin D in the protection against swine flu.
PHAC will measure vitamin D levels in the blood of H1N1 patients and compare the blood levels with uninfected individuals. The rationale behind this study is based on earlier work in the 1940’s that indicated mice on diets low in vitamin D were more susceptible to experimental swine flu infection than those with adequate vitamin D levels (Young, et al., Vitamin D intake and susceptibility of mice to experimental swine influenza virus infection. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1949 Dec;72(3):695-7.) How vitamin D might protect against influenza infection is not fully understood. However, research suggests that vitamin D may induce the production of antimicrobial substances in the body that may possess neutralizing activity against a variety of infectious agents including influenza virus.
It is interesting information and something to consider as we approach this year’s cold and flu season. Low and deficient vitamin D levels are highly prevalent in people who avoid sun exposure due to health concerns or cultural traditions, use sunscreen, have dark skin, or live in northern latitudes. Recommended optimum blood levels of vitamin D are greater than 50 and as high as 80 ng/ml 25(OH)D.
Using this same line of thought, elderberry flavonoids were shown to bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro in a study published this July 2009. The study established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells. The authors also stated that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM). (Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61. Epub 2009 Aug 12.)
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Sylvia C. Timberlake, MS, Director of Sales and Education
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