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Can vitamin D fight swine flu?

July 28, 2009 | 10:08 am

Many websites have been promoting vitamin D as a way to prevent infections by the novel H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu, and now Canadian health authorities are going to investigate whether it works. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the Public Health Agency of Canada will measure the levels of vitamin D in the blood of H1N1 patients and compare the levels with those of uninfected people.

The rationale for the new look at vitamin D is based on studies in the 1940s with a different strain of swine flu that showed that mice with low levels of vitamin D in their diet were more susceptible to infection. The reason for the supposed protection is unclear, but many speculate that vitamin D bolsters the immune system.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

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Comments (2)

Good idea, but it means that most of the snowbelt areas are at risk for worse swine flu outbreaks than sunbelt states, since we have low vitamin D levels already. So do office workers, prisoners, and housebound seniors. Less sun, less vitamin D, no-brainer. There is also the possibility that fighting this infection uses up vitamin d reserves, and those unable to replenish them succumb to the illness. Check that correlation?

People both inside and outside the sunbelt can be vitamin D deficient. About 57% or more of Americans currently are low. All of us can have our Vitamin D checked. Persons with low vitamin D can take supplements, and/or eat vitamin D rich meats/fish. For more information, see www.vitamindcouncil.org



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