Vitamin D Newsletter


Vitamin D and the flu

Ed from Massachusetts writes:

Dr. Cannell:
Who was R. Edgar Hope-Simpson? I loved your newsletter on vitamin D and the flu. 

Dr. Cannell replies:

Dr. Hope-Simpson, one of my heroes, was an English general practitioner who became famous in 1965 after he single-handedly discovered the cause of shingles. It was one of the greatest discoveries by a GP in modern medical history. 

After that he dedicated his life to studying influenza. I believe he correctly predicted that vitamin D plays a major role in preventing influenza epidemics although he didn't know it was vitamin D; he called it the "seasonal stimulus."

Hope-Simpson RE. The role of season in the epidemiology of influenza. J Hyg (Lond). 1981 Feb;86(1):35–47.

After reading Hope-Simpson and researching the topic, I wrote a newsletter about my theory. If you talk to people who keep their levels around 50 ng/mL, they will tell you they just don't get respiratory infections very often and if they do, they are mild. I believe the reason is simple: vitamin D dramatically increases the amount of naturally occurring antibiotics (antimicrobial proteins) in your lung and respiratory tract.

I have personally given 50,000 unit capsules of vitamin D to patients in early stages of what appears to be influenza (1,000 units/kg per day for three days—so a 120 pound person would take 50,000 units/day for three days and a 240 pound person would take 100,000 units/day for three days) and found it either stops their illness or ameliorates it. I find it has less effect on people with well-established respiratory infections and I don't understand why.

Page last edited: 28 August 2011