Vitamin D Newsletter


Vitamin D, Atherosclerosis, and Influenza

I want to alert readers to this month's groundbreaking study about atherosclerosis and vitamin D. Atherosclerosis is the disease process that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Targher and his group in Italy measured the amount of atherosclerotic plaque (carotid artery intimal thickness) and the vitamin D levels of 390 diabetic patients. The authors found low vitamin D blood levels were an independent and strong predicator of atherosclerosis. Professor Robert Scragg of the University of Auckland was right 16 years ago, when he discovered that low vitamin D levels are associated with heart attacks.

The flu season is just around the corner—I recommend that you take enough vitamin D this winter to keep your vitamin D level, also known as 25(OH)D, between 50–80 ng/ml (125–200 nmol/L). For many people that means 5,000 IU  per day in the winter. If you do, our hypothesis predicts that you will not be as likely to get viral respiratory infections, and if you do get sick, it will not be as severe. The vitamin D theory  of influenza has two important strengths. It is parsimonious, that is, it explains many observations with a single mechanism. Most importantly, if our theory is false, it can easily be disproved.

You can test the theory in another way. Simply obtain a bottle of 50,000 IU capsules of vitamin D3. Wait until you are sure you are getting a cold or the flu. Then take 1,000 IU of vitamin D per pound of body weight every day for three days. For a 150 pound adult, that would be 150,000 IU  (three capsules) a day for three days. This is called "stoss" therapy in Europe and is safe to do, unless your have a high blood calcium for any reason. Remember, bottles of 50,000 IU  vitamin D are a medicine, not a supplement, and you will make yourself vitamin D toxic, and you may even die, if you take a 50,000 IU capsule every day for months or years.

Page last edited: 21 May 2011