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Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked January 11, 2021
- The nutrient value in onions is likely the reason this savory vegetable is packed with health benefits; it is loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamin C and magnesium
- Onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids, a group of polyphenols that play an important role in reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases
- Onions are a source of the water-soluble fiber inulin, an important prebiotic that supports your beneficial gut bacteria and has demonstrated the ability to promote weight loss and reduce liver fat cells
- Quercetin is another compound found in onions, and it’s linked to fat cell inhibition, immune system modulation and blood pressure reduction
- Pick your onions dry and firm and leave the root intact to reduce tearing while peeling
A 2019 survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. crowned corn the new favorite vegetable, with an approval rating of 91%.1 Onions followed not far behind with an approval rating of 87%, making it among the top five favorite vegetables. The survey found some of the least favorite vegetables included asparagus, mushrooms and eggplant.
Many experts believe that the first onions appeared in Central Asia. Most agree the vegetable has been cultivated for nearly 5,000 years and might be one of the first cultivated crops since they are easy to grow and transport, and have a long shelf life.2
Pliny the Elder catalogued how Romans used onions in Pompeii before being killed by the volcano. His documents showed that onions’ curative powers included the ability to induce sleep, heal toothaches and mouth sores and address vision problems. Others have documented their use in the treatment of headaches and heart disease.3
In the Middle Ages, onions were used to help relieve headaches, hair loss and help to pay the rent. The first pilgrims brought them on the Mayflower to America to cultivate, where they became one of the first products brought to market in New England.
Onions are a member of the allium family, which also includes garlic, leeks, shallots and chives.4 About 125,000 acres produce 6.2 billion pounds of onions each year in the U.S.5 The top producing states are California, Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Washington.
Other countries producing a large number of onions include Turkey, Pakistan, China and India. According to Live Science, the average person in the U.S. eats 20 pounds of onions each year.
Nutrient Value Basis of Onion’s Health Benefits
It’s likely the many health benefits derived from eating onions comes from the nutrient value of the vegetable. One small onion has just 28 calories, 6.5 grams (g) of carbohydrate and 1.1 g of total fiber. It also contains:6
- Calcium, 16.1 milligrams (mg)
- Magnesium, 7 mg
- Potassium, 102 mg
- Vitamin C, 5.18 mg
- Choline, 4.27 mg
Onions are also surprisingly high in beneficial polyphenols.7 This group of plant compounds plays an important role in the prevention and reduction of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In a comparison of the polyphenol and antioxidant capacity between red and yellow onions researchers found the outer layers of the onions had the highest number of total polyphenols and flavonoids.
The outer layers of both types of onions also had the highest antioxidant activity. However, overall, the red onion had better antioxidant activity, with a higher number of total polyphenols and flavonoids that were associated with antioxidant activity. Onions have over 25 varieties of flavonoids that help prevent cellular damage contributing to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to the calcium content promoting strong bones, onions may also relieve oxidative stress, which in turn decreases bone loss and can help prevent osteoporosis.8 Onions are also good sources of vitamins A and K, which in addition to vitamin C help protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. Vitamin C also helps your body produce collagen, a structural support for your skin and hair.
Prebiotic Compound Has Multiple Benefits
Prebiotics are indigestible fiber that help nourish the beneficial bacteria in your body. In turn, these bacteria help with digestion and absorption of your food, as well as play a significant role in the function of your immune system. One of these prebiotics is inulin, a water-soluble form of dietary fiber that’s found in onions.9
Inulin is found in thousands of species of plants, but most experts agree that chicory root is the richest source with up to 20 g of inulin per 100 g in weight. Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, asparagus and raw onion are also significant sources, with Jerusalem artichokes measuring up to 19 g and raw onion measuring from 5 to 9 g.10
Your gut thrives on adequate amounts of fiber as it helps improve digestive health and relieves constipation. In one study, researchers found those who took inulin had bowel movements with improved stool consistency,11 and another four-week study showed older adults experienced better digestion with less constipation.12
In addition to feeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome, inulin also demonstrates the ability to promote weight loss and reduce liver fat cells in people who are prediabetic.13
Since inulin is colorless, has a neutral taste and is highly soluble, manufacturers are adding it to food products to help increase the fiber content of processed foods.14 In a review of inulin studies published in U.S. Pharmacist, the data showed inulin also has an effect on mineral absorption and a potential effect on lipid levels.15
Several studies showed it helps improve calcium absorption, which is highly beneficial in the onion since it is also a rich source of calcium. Overall, the data on the effect on lipids were mixed as most studies had a small number of participants. However, past research has shown that soluble fiber does lower lipid levels.16
In one study of women who had Type 2 diabetes, the researchers found those who used insulin had better glycemic control.17 It also appears that flavonoid-rich foods such as onions may help inhibit the growth of H. pylori, a type of bacteria responsible for most ulcers.18
Allium Vegetables Linked to Cancer Prevention
Allium vegetables are popular in different dishes worldwide and some epidemiological studies have found an association between people eating large amounts of allium vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.19
The majority of these studies have come from mechanistic research, or studies that are “designed to understand a biological or behavioral process, the pathophysiology of a disease, or the mechanism of action of an intervention.”20
Some of these have been clinical trials evaluating the mechanism sulfur compounds in allium vegetables have on bioactivation of carcinogens and antimicrobial activities. In a review of the literature, researchers found:21 “Allium vegetables and their components have effects at each stage of carcinogenesis and affect many biological processes that modify cancer risk.”
In early 2019, a study published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology revealed the results of an analysis of 833 patients with colorectal cancer who were matched against an equal number of healthy controls.22 Demographic and dietary data were collected using interviews.
After the analysis, the researchers found that adults who ate high amounts of allium vegetables had a 79% lower risk colorectal cancer. Dr. Zhi Li, of the First Hospital of China Medical University, was the senior author, who commented on the results saying:23
“It is worth noting that in our research, there seems to be a trend: the greater the amount of allium vegetables, the better the protection. In general, the present findings shed light on the primary prevention of colorectal cancer through lifestyle intervention, which deserves further in-depth explorations.”
Angela Lemond, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees that foods high in antioxidants and which are “one of the richest sources of dietary flavonoids,”24 are important to good health:25
“Foods that are high in antioxidants and amino acids allow your body to function optimally. Antioxidants help prevent damage, and cancer. Amino acids are the basic building block for protein, and protein is used in virtually every vital function in the body.”
Quercetin Linked to Blood Pressure and Immune Function
Quercetin is another compound found in onions that is linked to a large number of health benefits. This single antioxidant flavonoid is found in high concentrations in onions. Researchers have found some onions store quercetin in the outer layers and others have higher concentration in the inner layers.26
Red onions and chartreuse onions have the highest levels in the outer layers, whereas the highest levels of quercetin were detected in the inner layer of the yellow onion. In this study, data showed the yellow onions had more total quercetin than red onions, and chartreuse onions had the highest level overall.
The most common onions are red, yellow and white, whereas chartreuse is a relatively rare genetic genotype.27 There are two main classes of flavonoids in onions — anthocyanins that are responsible for the color of red onions and quercetin that is responsible for the yellow and brown skins of other varieties.28
In one review of the literature researchers evaluated the anti-obesity activity of onions and their effect on related comorbidities.29 Analysis revealed studies that demonstrated “quercetin-rich onion peel extract” could inhibit fat cell generation in the lab and an animal model.
Additionally, they found raw extract could reduce blood sugar in an animal model after 24 hours and had the potential for pancreatic beta cell regeneration. The benefits extended to overweight and obese patients with high blood pressure who used concentrations of quercetin extracted from onion skin.
In this study, a group of participants took three capsules each day and while there was no difference in blood pressure measurements in the total group, blood pressure was significantly reduced in the subgroup of participants who had high blood pressure.
As I’ve written in the past, quercetin in combination with vitamin C has a powerful effect on your immune system and specifically to help prevent COVID-19. Since 1 cup of chopped onions provides 13.11% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C,30,31 onions are a healthy addition to your daily nutritional intake.32 The benefits to your immune system are extensive and include:33
“Quercetin is known for its antioxidant activity in radical scavenging and anti-allergic properties characterized by stimulation of immune system, antiviral activity, inhibition of histamine release, decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines, leukotrienes creation, and suppresses interleukin IL-4 production.
It can improve the Th1/Th2 balance, and restrain antigen-specific IgE antibody formation. It is also effective in the inhibition of enzymes such as lipoxygenase, eosinophil and peroxidase and the suppression of inflammatory mediators.”
How to Pick, Peel and Store Your Onions
Whether you’re harvesting from your own garden or selecting onions at the grocery store, use those that are dry and firm. Although they have a long shelf life, once they reach the end the flesh begins to get soft and moist.34 The onion should have little or no scent before you begin cutting.
As you peel the onion, take off the least amount of skin from the outer layer. As with many other vegetables, the outer layers are packed with antioxidants, which are best used in your meal and not in the garbage or compost pile.
The chemical properties of onions that make them savory are the same that trigger your tears as you’re peeling and chopping. These are sulfur compounds the plant uses in chemical warfare against predators. As you slice an onion, it produces a sulfur-based gas. This reacts with your tears and forms the familiar irritation triggered by a sulfenic acid substrate.35
To reduce the effect, try standing farther away so as the gas is released it disperses before reaching your face. You can also try cutting onions in front of a fan that blows the gas away from you. Try refrigerating the onions for 30 minutes and leaving the roots intact as you’re cutting and peeling. According to the National Onion Association, the roots have the highest concentration of sulfur.36
Onions should be stored in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area. Instead of a plastic bag, consider wrapping each in a paper towel before placing in the refrigerator. The sweeter the onion, the higher the water content, which means sweet onions have a shorter shelf life than other types of onions.
If learning about the health benefits of eating onions has inspired you to include them in your meal planning, then you’ll want to check out the National Onion Association Guide to help choose the different types of onions, their flavors and how they are best prepared.37 You’ll also find this and more health information about onions in “Onion Power!”
- 1 Fox News, June 19, 2019
- 2 National Onion Association, Onion History
- 3, 32 The Sentinel, January 1, 2021
- 4 The Vegetarian Site, All About Allium Vegetables
- 5 LiveScience, May 9, 2017, Onion Facts
- 6 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Raw Onion
- 7 Czech Journal of Food Science, 2013;31(5)
- 8 Times of India, August 10, 2020; raw onions
- 9 Times of India, August 10, 2020
- 10 Carbohydrate Polymers April 8, 2016
- 11 Nutricion Hospitalaria, 2014;30(2)
- 12 International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, 2011;62(2)
- 13 Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015;12:36
- 14 Washington Post, June 12, 2019
- 15 U.S. Pharmacist, 2006;10:109, Effect on Minerals, Effect on Lipids and Glucose
- 16 Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 2016;18(12)
- 17 Diabetes and Metabolism Journal 2013;37(2):140
- 18 Riley Children’s Hospital, Peptic ulcers, Gastritis and Helicobacter Pylori
- 19, 21 Cancer Prevention Research, 2015;8(3)
- 20 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, May 20, 2020
- 22 Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2019; doi.org/10.1111/ajco.13133
- 23 Science Daily, February 21, 2019
- 24 Onions: A Source of Flavonoids, August 23, 2017
- 25 Livescience, May 9, 2017, para 8
- 26 Saudi Journal of Biological Science, 2017;24(6) 3.2
- 27 American Society for Horticultural Science, 2020;145(2)
- 28 Phytotherapy Research, 2002;16(7)
- 29 Molecules, 2019;24(1) 4.2. Adipogenesis Inhibition
- 30 Dietary Guidelines for Americans January 2021
- 31 USDA Food Data Raw Onions April 1, 2019
- 33 Molecules, 2016;21(5)
- 34 Medical News Today, November 15, 2019
- 35 ACS Chemical Biology, 2017;12(9)
- 36 National Onion Association, FAQs
- 37 National Onion Association
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked January 09, 2021
- According to new COVID-19 guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, there’s insufficient evidence to support the recommendation to take oral vitamin D for the sole reason of preventing or treating COVID-19
- While the panel agreed low vitamin D was associated with more severe COVID-19 outcomes, they claim it’s impossible to confirm causality due to inconsistencies between the studies and because vitamin D deficiency and severe COVID-19 share many of the same risk factors
- With that, they are backtracking on previous recommendations issued by British health officials who, in November 2020, urged people to take supplemental vitamin D this winter to reduce their risk of respiratory infections, including COVID-19
- While the new guidance does urge Britons to take a vitamin D supplement between October and March, it only recommends a dose of 400 IUs a day, which is easily 10 times lower than what most people would require for general health and immune function
- There’s compelling evidence suggesting optimizing your vitamin D level can significantly reduce your risk of COVID-19 and improve your outcome if you do get infected
I’ve written many articles detailing the roles vitamin D plays in COVID-19, from how it can help prevent initial infection, to how it can reduce your risk of complications and death. One of the reasons I’ve been pushing for vitamin D optimization as a way to minimize the risks associated with this infection is because the evidence for it is overwhelming.
British Health Authorities Disparage Vitamin D Claims
British health authorities, however, disagree.1 According to new COVID-19 guidance2 from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), there’s insufficient evidence to support the recommendation to take oral vitamin D for the sole reason of preventing or treating COVID-19.
With that, they are backtracking on previous recommendations issued by British health officials who, in November 2020, urged people to take supplemental vitamin D this winter to reduce their risk of respiratory infections, including COVID-19.3
What’s more, while the new guidance does urge Britons to take a vitamin D supplement between October and March, it only recommends a dose of 400 IUs a day, which is easily 10 times lower than what most people would require for general health and immune function.
While the panel agreed low vitamin D was associated with more severe COVID-19 outcomes, they claim it’s impossible to confirm causality due to inconsistencies between the studies (such as dosing, setting, populations, duration and definitions of outcomes), and because vitamin D deficiency and severe COVID-19 share many of the same risk factors.
According to professor Ian Young, who chairs SACN, “This evidence review confirms that currently there is not enough available evidence to determine that there is a causal relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19.”
However, if vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 share the same risk factors, wouldn’t it make more sense to urge people to address their vitamin D deficiency instead of using this as a justification for why vitamin D supplementation cannot be recommended?
It’s really hard to imagine that scientists with a genuine concern for public health would come out with this kind of guidance, especially when you consider that vitamin D supplementation — at whatever dosage required to get your blood level above 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) — won’t make your health any worse. There’s absolutely no downside to it.
Vitamin D Is Important for Optimal Immune Function
In the video above, Dr. Roger Seheult reviews how vitamin D works, and the benefits of vitamin D, both for respiratory infections in general and as it pertains to COVID-19.
Importantly, vitamin D is a steroid hormone that can pass through cellular membranes into the nucleus and controls the expression of genes. So, it’s not just a mere vitamin required as a cofactor. It can actually modify how the cells in your body behave and function.
Vitamin D receptors are found in a large number of different tissues and cells, including your immune cells. This means vitamin D plays an important role in your immune function specifically. If vitamin D is lacking, your immune system will be impaired, which in turn makes you more susceptible to infections of all kinds. As noted by Seheult, vitamin D:
- Stimulates “the innate immune response, which provides frontline protection against infectious agents”
- Increases expression of antimicrobial peptides in your monocytes and neutrophils — both of which play important roles in COVID-19
- Enhances expression of an antimicrobial peptide called human cathelicidin, “which is of specific importance in host defenses against respiratory tract pathogens”
Vitamin D for COVID-19
While Seheult also reviews a number of studies looking at vitamin D in relation to respiratory illnesses other than COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2-specific investigations have found:
• COVID-19 is far more common in vitamin D deficient individuals — In one study,4,5,6 82.2% of COVID-19 patients tested were deficient in vitamin D, compared to 47.2% of population-based controls. (Mean vitamin D levels were 13.8 ± 7.2 ng/ml, compared to 20.9 ± 7.4 ng/ml in controls.)
They also found that blood levels of vitamin D inversely correlated to D-dimer levels (a measure of blood coagulation). Many COVID-19 patients have elevated D-dimer levels, which are associated with blood clots.
• Vitamin D status influences COVID-19 severitys — COVID-19 patients who have higher vitamin D levels tend to have milder illness and better outcomes. One study7,8 found the risk of severe COVID-19 and related deaths virtually disappeared when vitamin D levels were above 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L).
In another study,9 COVID-19 patients with a vitamin D level between 21 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) and 29 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) had a 12.55 times higher risk of death than those with a level above 30 ng/mL. Having a level below 20 ng/mL was associated with a 19.12 times higher risk of death.
My scientific review,10 “Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity,” published October 31, 2020, also lists data from 14 observational studies that show vitamin D blood levels are inversely correlated with the incidence and/or severity of COVID-19.
This makes sense when you consider that vitamin D regulates inflammatory cytokine production — a lethal hallmark of COVID-19 — and is an important regulator of your immune system. Dysregulation of the immune system is another hallmark of severe COVID-19.
Seheult also reviews studies showing COVID-19 outcomes appear to be linked to UVB exposure. For example, in one such study,11 they found a marked variation in mortality depending on whether the patients lived above or below 35 degrees North latitude. As noted by the authors:12
” … the hypothesis is not that vitamin D would protect against SARS‐CoV‐2 infection but that it could be very important in preventing the cytokine storm and subsequent acute respiratory distress syndrome that is commonly the cause of mortality.”
Now, as noted by Seheult, it’s also possible that COVID-19 itself might be the cause of the lower vitamin D levels seen in these patients. This was reviewed in a letter to the editor, titled, “Vitamin D Deficiency in COVID-19: Mixing Up Cause and Consequence,” published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, November 17, 2020.13 What they found was that as plasma cytokine levels increased in COVID-19 patients, vitamin D levels modestly dropped.
• Vitamin D influences infection risks — Vitamin D has also been linked to a lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19 in the first place.
The largest observational study14 to date, which looked at data for 191,779 American patients, found that of those with a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml (deficiency), 12.5% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, compared to 8.1% of those who had a vitamin D level between 30 and 34 ng/ml (adequacy) and 5.9% of those who had an optimal vitamin D level of 55 ng/ml or higher. According to the authors:
“SARS-CoV-2 positivity is strongly and inversely associated with circulating 25(OH)D levels, a relationship that persists across latitudes, races/ethnicities, both sexes, and age ranges.”
How to Improve Your Vitamin D Absorption
The specific dosage required to maintain an optimal vitamin D level can vary widely from person to person depending on a variety of factors, including age and weight. Your gut health can also play an important role in how well you absorb the vitamin D you take, according to recent research.15
When you have a healthy gut, beneficial bacteria produce butyrate by breaking down dietary fiber. Butyrate, in turn, helps increase vitamin D, so the more butyrate you have, the more vitamin D your body can absorb.
Another factor that can influence your vitamin D absorption is your magnesium level.16 Magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form.17,18,19,20 According to a scientific review21,22 published in 2018, as many as 50% of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form, and the reason for this is because they have insufficient magnesium levels.
More recent research by GrassrootsHealth23 shows you need 146% more vitamin D to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) if you do not take supplemental magnesium, compared to taking your vitamin D with at least 400 mg of magnesium per day.
Your vitamin K2 intake can also affect your required vitamin D dosage. According to GrassrootsHealth,24 “combined intake of both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 has a greater effect on vitamin D levels than either individually,” and “those taking both supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 have a higher vitamin D level for any given vitamin D intake amount than those taking either supplemental magnesium or vitamin K2 or neither.”
Data25 from nearly 3,000 individuals revealed 244% more oral vitamin D was required to get 50% of the population to achieve a vitamin D level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) if they weren’t concurrently also taking magnesium and vitamin K2.
Safeguard Your Immune System With Vitamin D
In summary, if you cannot get sufficient amounts of sun exposure to maintain a vitamin D blood level of 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) to 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L), a vitamin D3 supplement is highly recommended. Just remember that the most important factor here is your blood level, not the dose, so before you start, get tested so you know your baseline.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, now is the time to check your vitamin D level and start taking action to raise it if you’re below 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L).
This will help you determine your ideal dose, as it can vary widely from person to person. Also remember that you can minimize your vitamin D requirement by making sure you’re also getting enough magnesium and vitamin K2. I’m convinced optimizing your vitamin D can go a long way toward minimizing your chances of contracting a respiratory infection, be it the common cold, seasonal influenza or COVID-19.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, now is the time to check your vitamin D level and start taking action to raise it if you’re below 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L). Experts recommend a vitamin D level between 40 and 60 ng/mL (100 to 150 nmol/L).
An easy and cost-effective way of measuring your vitamin D level is to order GrassrootsHealth’s vitamin D testing kit. Also, if you haven’t already visited www.stopcovidcold.com please do so now so you can take your free COVID risk test and grab a free PDF copy of my vitamin D report.
Once you know your current vitamin D level, use the GrassrootsHealth vitamin D calculator26 to determine how much vitamin D you might need to reach your target level. Retest your vitamin D level in three to four months to make sure you’ve reached your target level. If you have, then you’re taking the correct dosage. If you’re still low (or have reached a level above 80 ng/mL), you’ll need to adjust your dosage accordingly and retest again in another three to four months.
- 1 Medscape News UK December 17, 2020 (Archived)
- 2 NICE.org.uk COVID-19 Rapid Guideline: Vitamin D, December 17, 2020 (PDF)
- 3 BBC November November 28, 2020
- 4 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism October 27, 2020; dgaa733 [Epub ahead of print]
- 5 Endocrine.org October 27, 2020
- 6 Science Daily October 27, 2020
- 7 Infectious Diseases April 8, 2020 DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-21211/v1
- 8 Orthomolecular Medicine News Service June 22, 2020
- 9 Emerginnova.com June 4, 2020
- 10 Nutrients October 31, 2020;12, 3361; doi:10.3390/nu12113361
- 11, 12 Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2020; doi.org/10.1111/apt.15777
- 13 Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental November 17, 2020
- 14 PLOS ONE September 17, 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239252
- 15 Nature Communications 2020; 11 Article number: 5997
- 16 BMC Medicine 2013; 11: 187
- 17 Live Science February 26, 2018
- 18 Medicalxpress.com February 27, 2018
- 19 News-Medical.net February 26, 2018
- 20 Wellandgood.com February 26, 2018
- 21 Journal of the American Osteopathic Association March 2018; 118: 181-189
- 22 Science Daily February 2018
- 23 GrassrootsHealth Is Supplemental Magnesium Important for Vitamin D Levels?
- 24, 25 GrassrootsHealth Magnesium and Vitamin K2 Combined Important for Vitamin D Levels
- 26 GrassrootsHealth Vitamin D Calculator
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked January 07, 2021
- While health authorities and mainstream media have ignored, if not outright opposed, the use of vitamin C and other supplements in the treatment of COVID-19, citing lack of clinical evidence, a landmark review recommends the use of vitamin C as an adjunctive therapy for respiratory infections, sepsis and COVID-19
- According to the authors, “Vitamin C’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19”
- Oral vitamin C at doses of 2 to 8 grams a day have been shown to reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections
- Intravenous vitamin C at 6 to 24 grams a day has been shown to reduce mortality, ICU admission rates, hospital stays and time on mechanical ventilation in patients with severe respiratory infections
- An international vitamin C campaign has been launched in response to the landmark review
Regardless of what the mainstream media want you to think, many are starting to realize the truth, which is that both vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin D have an enormous amount of research showing they provide important immune function enhancements, and that your immune function is your frontline defense against all illness, including COVID-19.
As reported in the paper “Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect Against Viral Infections,” published April 23, 2020:1
“The role nutrition plays in supporting the immune system is well-established. A wealth of mechanistic and clinical data show that vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper; and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid play important and complementary roles in supporting the immune system.
Inadequate intake and status of these nutrients are widespread, leading to a decrease in resistance to infections and as a consequence an increase in disease burden.”
High-Dose Vitamin C Acts as an Antiviral Drug
As explained in the video above by Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, at extremely high doses, vitamin C actually acts as an antiviral drug, effectively inactivating viruses.
His Tokyo presentation, “Orthomolecular Medicine and Coronavirus Disease: Historical Basis for Nutritional Treatment,” highlights the fact that when used as a treatment, high doses of vitamin C — often 1,000 times more than the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) — are needed.
It’s a cornerstone of medical science that dose affects treatment outcome, but this premise isn’t accepted when it comes to vitamin therapy the way it is with drug therapy. Most vitamin C research has used inadequate, low doses, which don’t lead to clinical results.
“The medical literature has ignored over 80 years of laboratory and clinical studies on high-dose ascorbate therapy,” Saul notes, adding that while it’s widely accepted that vitamin C is beneficial in fighting illness, controversy exists over to what extent. “Moderate quantities provide effective prevention,” he says, while “large quantities are therapeutic.”
Landmark Paper Puts Vitamin C on the COVID-19 Treatment Map
While health authorities and mainstream media have ignored, if not outright opposed, the use of vitamin C and other supplements in the treatment of COVID-19, citing lack of clinical evidence, we now have a landmark review2 recommending the use of vitamin C as an adjunctive therapy for respiratory infections, sepsis and COVID-19.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19. ~ Nutrients December 7, 2020
The review,3 published December 7, 2020, in the journal Nutrients, was co-written by Dr. Paul Marik who, in 2017, developed a groundbreaking vitamin C-based treatment for sepsis. Marik is now heading up the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance,4 which has developed a highly successful treatment for COVID-19.
The COVID-19 protocol was initially dubbed MATH+ (an acronym based on the key components of the treatment), but after several tweaks and updates, the prophylaxis and early outpatient treatment protocol is now known as I-MASK+5 while the hospital treatment has been renamed I-MATH+,6 due to the addition of the drug Ivermectin. Vitamin C remains a central component of this treatment, though.
(The two protocols7,8 are available for download on the FLCCC Alliance website in multiple languages. The clinical and scientific rationale for the I-MATH+ hospital protocol has also been peer-reviewed and was published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine9 in mid-December 2020.) As explained in the Nutrients review abstract:10
“There are limited proven therapies for COVID-19. Vitamin C’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects make it a potential therapeutic candidate, both for the prevention and amelioration of COVID-19 infection, and as an adjunctive therapy in the critical care of COVID-19.
This literature review focuses on vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections, including COVID-19, and the mechanisms of action in infectious disease, including support of the stress response, its role in preventing and treating colds and pneumonia, and its role in treating sepsis and COVID-19.
The evidence to date indicates that oral vitamin C (2-8 g/day) may reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections and intravenous vitamin C (6-24 g/day) has been shown to reduce mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stays, and time on mechanical ventilation for severe respiratory infections …
Given the favorable safety profile and low cost of vitamin C, and the frequency of vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections, it may be worthwhile testing patients’ vitamin C status and treating them accordingly with intravenous administration within ICUs and oral administration in hospitalized persons with COVID-19.”
International Vitamin C Campaign Launched
In a December 16, 2020, action alert,11 Rob Verkerk, Ph.D., founder and scientific director of the Alliance for Natural Health, announced the launch of an international vitamin C campaign12 in response to the landmark review, which “puts all the arguments and science in one, neat place.”
As noted by Verkerk, there are several reasons to take supplemental vitamin C. First, your body cannot make it. Second, most people do not get sufficient amounts from their diet and, third, your body’s requirement for vitamin C can increase 10-fold whenever your immune system is challenged by an infection, disease or physical trauma.
In fact, the Nutrients review13 points out that it’s common for hospitalized patients to have overt vitamin C deficiency, defined as a blood level at or below 11 µmol/L. This is particularly true for older patients and those hospitalized for respiratory infections.
According to the authors, “Vitamin C concentrations are three to 10 times higher in the adrenal glands than in any other organ. It is released from the adrenal cortex under conditions of physiological stress (ACTH stimulation), including viral exposure, raising plasma levels fivefold.” In his action alert, Verkerk notes:14
“Taking vitamin C as a preventative and then, upping your intake if you’re infected, is a no brainer. So is using vitamin C intravenously for those with acute respiratory infections, or sepsis, in critical care.
So much so, that we argue — given the now available evidence — that doctors and other health professionals who avoid recommendations on vitamin C in relation to COVID disease prevention and treatment, should be considered medically negligent …
There is ample evidence to show that supplements like zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D can help prevent and treat COVID-19, but we’re prevented from learning about these benefits by the federal government.
Because supplements are not, and can never become, FDA-approved, they cannot claim to have an impact on disease, even when we know they can. This nonsense has to stop.”
How Vitamin C Works
As mentioned, the Nutrients review15 details vitamin C’s mechanisms of action and how it helps in cases of infectious disease, including the common cold, pneumonia, sepsis and COVID-19. For starters, vitamin C has the following basic properties:
Beneficial antiviral effects apply to both the innate and adaptive immune systems. When you have an infection, vitamin C improves your immune function in part by promoting the development and maturation of T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is an essential part of your immune system.
Phagocytes, immune cells that kill pathogenic microbes, are also able to take in oxidized vitamin C and regenerate it to ascorbic acid. With regard to COVID-19 specifically, vitamin C:16
|Helps downregulate inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm. It also reduces inflammation through the activation of NF-κB and by increasing superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione. Epigenetically, vitamin C regulates genes involved in the upregulation of antioxidant proteins and downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines|
|Protects your endothelium from oxidant injury|
|Helps repair damaged tissues|
|Upregulates expression of Type-1 interferons, your primary antiviral defense mechanism, which SARS-CoV-2 downregulates|
|Eliminates ACE2 upregulation induced by IL-7. This is particularly noteworthy, as the ACE2 receptor is the entry point for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus’ spike protein binds to ACE2)|
|Appears to be a powerful inhibitor of Mpro, a key protease (enzyme) in SARS-CoV-2 that activates viral nonstructural proteins|
|Regulates neutrophil extracellular trap formation (NETosis), a maladaptive response that results in tissue damage and organ failure|
|Enhances lung epithelial barrier function in an animal model of sepsis by promoting epigenetic and transcriptional expression of protein-channels at the alveolar capillary membrane that regulate alveolar fluid clearance|
|Mediates the adrenocortical stress response, particularly in sepsis|
The graph below, from the Nutrients review, illustrates the key ways in which vitamin C ameliorates the pathology seen in COVID-19.
Nebulized Peroxide May Be Even Better
The beautiful graphic above makes it really clear that one of the primary ways that vitamin C works is through the generation of reactive oxygen species. Guess what the primary one is? If you guessed hydrogen peroxide give yourself a high five!
It is highly likely that the peroxide forms a very powerful signaling function that stimulates the immune system to defeat whatever viral threat it is exposed to. This is one of the reasons why nebulized peroxide is my absolute favorite intervention for acute viral illnesses. It is highly effective, inexpensive and has no side effects when used at the very low doses recommended (0.1%, which is 30 times less concentrated than regular drugstore 3% peroxide).
My video below discusses the details of how you can use this therapy. The key is to have your nebulizer already purchased and ready to go so that it is locked and loaded and you don’t have to go out and purchase anything if you or a loved one gets sick. You can still use vitamin C with the peroxide, as they likely have a powerful synergy and use different complimentary mechanisms.
Since you are not using full strength 3% peroxide and diluting it by 30 to 50 times, it is unlikely the stabilizers will present a problem, but to be safe, it is best to use FOOD-GRADE peroxide. Also, do not dilute it with plain water as the lack of electrolytes in the water can damage your lungs if you nebulize it. Instead, use saline or add a small amount of salt to the water to eliminate this risk.
The Nutrients review17 also includes clinical evidence for the role of vitamin C in COVID-19, noting that early oral supplementation might help prevent a mild case from developing into something more serious. In patients with critical symptoms, intravenous administration of vitamin C has been shown to speed up recovery, reducing both ICU stays and mortality.
Interestingly, vitamin C deficiency and COVID-19 share many of the same risk factors, including male gender, darker skin, older age and comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure and COPD. All of these subgroups are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 and, according to the authors, all “have also been shown to have lower serum vitamin C levels.”
Commenting on the clinical evidence supporting the use of vitamin C in the treatment of COVID-19, the authors write:18
“There are currently 45 trials registered on Clinicaltrials.gov investigating vitamin C with or without other treatments for COVID-19. In the first RCT to test the value of vitamin C in critically ill COVID-19 patients, 54 ventilated patients in Wuhan, China, were treated with a placebo (sterile water) or intravenous vitamin C at a dose of 24 g/day for 7 days …
The more severely ill patients with SOFA [sequential organ failure assessment] scores ≥ 3 in the vitamin C group exhibited a reduction in 28-day mortality: 18% versus 50% in univariate survival analysis (Figure 2). No study-related adverse events were reported.”
Figure 2 below, from version 1 of the study,19 “High-Dose Vitamin C Infusion for the Treatment of Critically Ill COVID-19,” posted on the preprint server Research Square August 10, 2020 (updated September 23, at which point it was renamed20), shows the 28-day mortality rates between critically ill COVID-19 patients given high-dose IV vitamin C (HDIVC) compared to those given a placebo.
The Nutrient review also summarizes findings from other COVID-19 trials using vitamin C, as well as a few case reports:21
“In the UK, the Chelsea and Westminster hospital ICU, where adult ICU patients were administered 1 g of intravenous vitamin C every 12 h together with anticoagulants, has reported 29% mortality, compared to the average 41% reported by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) for all UK ICUs …
The Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Expert Group (FLCCC), a group of emergency medicine experts, have reported that, with the combined use of 6 g/day intravenous vitamin C (1.5 g every 6 h), plus steroids and anticoagulants, mortality was 5% in two ICUs in the US (United Memorial Hospital in Houston, Texas, and Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia), the lowest mortality rates in their respective counties.
A case report of 17 COVID-19 patients who were given 1 g of intravenous vitamin C every 8 h for 3 days reported a mortality rate of 12% with 18% rates of intubation and mechanical ventilation and a significant decrease in inflammatory markers, including ferritin and D-dimer, and a trend towards decreasing FiO2 requirements.
Another case of unexpected recovery following high-dose intravenous vitamin C has also been reported. While these case reports are subject to confounding and are not prima facie evidence of effects, they do illustrate the feasibility of using vitamin C for COVID-19 with no adverse effects reported.”
How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?
As detailed in the introduction of the Nutrients review,22 primates and humans are dependent on an adequate supply of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. Gorillas need 4.5 grams a day, while smaller primates weighing around 7.5 kilos need about 600 mg per day. This gives us a clue as to what the human requirement might be, and it’s quite a bit higher than the daily recommended intake. According to the authors:23
“The EU Average Requirement of 90 mg/day for men and 80 mg/day for women is to maintain a normal plasma level of 50 µmol/L, which is the mean plasma level in UK adults. This is sufficient to prevent scurvy but may be inadequate when a person is under viral exposure and physiological stress.
An expert panel in cooperation with the Swiss Society of Nutrition recommended that everyone supplement with 200 mg ‘to fill the nutrient gap for the general population and especially for the adults age 65 and older. This supplement is targeted to strengthen the immune system.’ The Linus Pauling Institute recommends 400 mg for older adults (>50 years old).
Pharmacokinetic studies in healthy volunteers support a 200-mg daily dose to produce a plasma level of circa 70 to 90 µmol/L. Complete plasma saturation occurs between 1 g daily and 3 g every four hours, being the highest tolerated oral dose, giving a predicted peak plasma concentration of circa 220 µmol/L.
The same dose given intravenously raises plasma vitamin C levels approximately tenfold. Higher intakes of vitamin C are likely to be needed during viral infections with 2–3 g/day required to maintain normal plasma levels between 60 and 80 µmol/L. Whether higher plasma levels have additional benefit is yet to be determined, but would be consistent with the results of the clinical trials discussed in this review.”
While high-dose vitamin C regimens typically call for intravenous administration, if treating a viral infection at home (be it COVID-19 or something else), you could use oral liposomal vitamin C, as this allows you to take far higher doses without causing loose stools.
You can take up to 100 grams of liposomal vitamin C without problems and get really high blood levels, equivalent to or higher than intravenous vitamin C. I view that as an acute treatment, however. I discourage people from taking mega doses of vitamin C on a regular basis if they’re not actually sick, because it is essentially a drug — or at least it works like one.
Saul, who has worked with and recommended vitamin C for most of his professional life suggests taking “enough vitamin C to be symptom-free,” whatever dosage that might be. When you’re well, you typically don’t need more than the 200 mg to 400 mg recommended in the quote above.
- 1 Nutrients April 23, 2020; 12(4): 1181
- 2, 3, 10, 15, 17 Nutrients December 7, 2020; 12(12): 3760
- 4 Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance
- 5, 7 FLCCC Alliance I-MASK+ Protocol
- 6, 8 FLCCC MATH+ Hospital Protocol
- 9 Journal of Intensive Care Medicine December 15, 2020 DOI: 10.1177/0885066620973585
- 11, 14 Alliance for Natural Health December 16, 2020
- 12 VitaminC4Covid.com
- 13 Nutrients December 7, 2020; 12(12): 3760, 2. Vitamin C Deficiency in Pneumonia, Sepsis and COVID-19
- 16 Nutrients December 7, 2020; 12(12): 3760, 3. Mechanisms of Action of Vitamin C in Infections, Sepsis and COVID-19
- 18, 21 Nutrients December 7, 2020; 12(12): 3760, 7. Clinical Evidence for the Role of Vitamin C in COVID-19
- 19 Research Square August 10, 2020 DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-52778/v1 (version 1)
- 20 Research Square September 23, 2020 DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-52778/v2 (version 2)
- 22, 23 Nutrients December 7, 2020; 12(12): 3760, 1. Introduction
Written by Brenton Wight, Health Researcher
Copyright © 1999-2021 Brenton Wight. All Rights Reserved.
This site is non-profit, existing only to help people improve health
Updated 2nd January 2021
Pistachios are more than a tasty snack, they are probably the best nuts to eat!
They are very nutritious, with more than 30 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, γ-tocopherol, β-carotene, lutein, selenium, flavonoids, phytoestrogens, potassium, vitamin B-6, beta-carotene, lutein + zeaxanthin, selenium, fibre and are low-carbohydrate.
Even though they contain healthy fats, they actually help fat burning, along with cholesterol improvement, heart health, blood glucose improvement, even better sexual function!
- Plenty of vitamin B-6, essential for the brain, nerves, energy, breaking down fats, lowering homocysteine, treating anxiety, depression, PMS, ADD, ADHD
- Heart health, blood vessels, cholesterol and triglyceride improvement due mainly to the antioxidants
- Diabetes improvement due to lower blood glucose and corresponding lower insulin levels
- Curb the appetite due to the protein, healthy fats and fibre content
- Studies show benefit for erectile dysfunction in men
- Lutein and zeaxanthin in pistachios helps protect the eyes from macular degeneration and other eye disease
- Prebiotics and fibre in pistachios help feed our healthy gut bacteria, the first line of defense for immunity
Reproduced from original article:
- The bacteria in your intestines may influence brain functioning and can even promote neurodegeneration
- In a study of 89 people, high blood levels of lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) and the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate and valerate were associated with large amyloid deposits in the brain
- LPSs and SCFAs are markers of inflammation and proteins produced by intestinal bacteria
- High levels of butyrate — an SCFA produced when gut bacteria ferment fiber — were associated with less amyloid
- The study represents a continuation of prior research by the team, which found that the gut microbiota in people with Alzheimer’s disease differs from those without the condition; in those with Alzheimer’s, microbial diversity is reduced, with certain bacteria being overrepresented and other microbes decreased
- Optimizing your gut flora is a key strategy to preventing Alzheimer’s and a host of other chronic diseases
Alzheimer’s disease continues to be a leading cause of death in the U.S., with 1 in 3 seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or dementia — more than the number killed by breast and prostate cancers combined.1
While a cure has remained elusive, the connection between brain health and gut microbiota has grown clearer, and research suggests that the bacteria in your intestines may influence brain functioning and can even promote neurodegeneration.2
A team of Swiss and Italian researchers has taken the correlation a step further, with research showing a connection between imbalanced gut microbiota and the development of amyloid plaques in the brain;3 Alzheimer’s is characterized by an accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.
Proteins Produced by Gut Bacteria May Trigger Alzheimer’s
The study involved a cohort of 89 people between 65 and 85 years of age. Some of them suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases while others were healthy with no memory problems.
The researchers used PET imaging to measure amyloid deposition in their brains, then measured markers of inflammation and proteins produced by intestinal bacteria, such as lipopolysaccharides and short-chain fatty acids, in their blood.
Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) are dead bacteria or, more specifically, the cell walls of dead bacteria. Your immune system treats them as living bacteria and mounts immune defenses against the perceived invaders. LPSs are pro-inflammatory and have been found in amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.4
The study revealed that high blood levels of LPSs and the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate and valerate were associated with large amyloid deposits in the brain. Other SCFAs, namely butyrate, appeared to have a protective effect; high levels of butyrate were associated with less amyloid.
Butyrate — an SCFA produced when gut bacteria ferment fiber — activates the secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),5 reduced levels of which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our results are indisputable: Certain bacterial products of the intestinal microbiota are correlated with the quantity of amyloid plaques in the brain,” explains Moira Marizzoni, a study author with the Fatebenefratelli Center in Brescia, Italy.6
Probiotic ‘Cocktail’ May Act as an Early Preventative
The study represents a continuation of prior research by the team, which found that the gut microbiota in people with Alzheimer’s disease differs from those without the condition. In those with Alzheimer’s, microbial diversity is reduced, with certain bacteria being overrepresented and other microbes decreased.
“Furthermore,” said neurologist Giovanni Frisoni, study author and director of the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) Memory Center in Switzerland, “we have also discovered an association between an inflammatory phenomenon detected in the blood, certain intestinal bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease; hence the hypothesis that we wanted to test here: Could inflammation in the blood be a mediator between the microbiota and the brain?”7
With the connection growing stronger, the team is planning further research to reveal which specific bacteria or groups of bacteria may be responsible for the effect, which could ultimately lead to a preventive treatment “cocktail.” Frisoni said in a news release:8
“Indeed, we must first identify the strains of the cocktail. Then, a neuroprotective effect could only be effective at a very early stage of the disease, with a view to prevention rather than therapy.
However, early diagnosis is still one of the main challenges in the management of neurodegenerative diseases, as protocols must be developed to identify high-risk individuals and treat them well before the appearance of detectable symptoms.”
The Fasting Connection
One reason why fasting is so beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is because it helps your body to cycle through autophagy and the rebuilding phase.
Autophagy is the process by which your body cleans out damaged organelles, encouraging proliferation of new, healthy cells, which relates to Alzheimer’s because the refolding process is one of several factors that need to work in order for your brain to function.
Importantly, fasting activates autophagy, which is your body’s way of taking out the trash, and will also trigger the regeneration of stem cells. In our 2017 interview, Dr. Steven Gundry explained that this also may have a direct connection with LPSs, and giving your gut a rest from these pro-inflammatory proteins via fasting may be healing:
“We have an amazing repair system that goes to work when you’re fasting. Not the least of which is [letting] your gut rest. It’s probably one of the smartest things that any of us can do — putting the wall of your gut at rest, not having to absorb nutrients, not having to deal with the constant inflow of lectins or toxins. But I think more importantly, it gives [your body] a chance to finally do some serious cleaning of your brain …
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have a unifying cause, and that is the brain is defending itself against perceived threat, a lot of which are LPSs. If you put your gut at rest and don’t have LPSs coming into your system, and the longer you can maintain that, realistically, the better off you are.
As Jason Fung would say, intermittent fasting is great; doing a modified calorie-restricted diet is great, but it technically is so much easier to just stop eating … The second level of my modified food pyramid is ‘Don’t eat anything.'”
Probiotics Show Promise for Alzheimer’s
The effect of beneficial bacteria on brain health is well-established, including in people with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2016 study of 60 Alzheimer’s patients looked into the effect of probiotic supplements on cognitive function, with promising results.9 Those who drank milk containing probiotics experienced significant improvements in cognitive function.
While average Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores increased among the probiotics group and the control group, which drank plain milk, had a decrease in scores.
The probiotics group also had beneficial metabolic changes, including lowered triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein and C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation, as well as reduced markers for insulin resistance.
The researchers suggested the beneficial metabolic changes may be responsible for the cognitive improvements. Walter Lukiw, a professor at Louisiana State University who was not involved in the study, further explained to Medical News Today that your gut and brain are intricately connected:10
“This is in line with some of our recent studies which indicate that the GI [gastrointestinal] tract microbiome in Alzheimer’s is significantly altered in composition when compared to age-matched controls …
… and that both the GI tract and blood-brain barriers become significantly more leaky with aging, thus allowing GI tract microbial exudates (e.g. amyloids, lipopolysaccharides, endotoxins and small non-coding RNAs) to access central nervous system compartments.”
Probiotics May Inhibit Neurodegeneration
Probiotics are thought to influence the central nervous system and behavior via the microbiota-gut-brain-axis, and researchers have suggested they may have both preventive and therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by modulating the inflammatory process and counteracting oxidative stress, among other mechanisms.11 Writing in the open-access Impact Journal on Aging, researchers explained:12
“It has been found that dysfunction in behavior and cognition is associated with GM [gut microbiota] dysbiosis. Activation of gut inflammation has been regarded as a possible pathogenic cofactor in cognitive deterioration and dementia.
Moreover, the most distinctive alterations in the GM of AD patients are decreased abundance of anti-inflammatory bacterial species (e.g. Bifidobacterium brevestrain A1) and increased abundance of pro-inflammatory flora phyla (e.g. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes).
And restoring GM homeostasis could slow down the progression of AD. Therefore, the GM has been proposed as a key player in the pathogenesis of AD and might be a new potential therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of AD.”
They conducted a meta-analysis involving five studies and 297 subjects, which revealed a significant improvement in cognition and a significant reduction in malondialdehyde and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein — inflammatory and oxidative biomarkers — in probiotic groups compared to controls.13
Research is still uncovering which bacteria are most beneficial, but the Bifidobacterium breve strain A1 may be of particular use in Alzheimer’s treatment. Using Alzheimer’s disease model mice, researchers were able to confirm that daily oral administration of B. breve A1 reduced the cognitive dysfunction normally induced by amyloid beta.14
One of the mechanisms behind these protective effects was found to be suppression of amyloid-beta-induced changes in gene expression in the hippocampus. In short, the bacterium had an ameliorating effect on amyloid-beta toxicity.
Still other research suggests gut microbiota may contribute to Alzheimer’s risk via multiple avenues, including by influencing aging, diabetes, sleep and circadian rhythm.15
It’s also possible, researchers hypothesize, that decades of factors such as diet, stress, aging and genetics, combine to disrupt gut permeability and the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, allowing the entry of inflammatory agents and pathogens and inducing an inflammatory response that triggers a neuroinflammatory response in the brain.16
“There is mounting evidence that the gut microbiota interacts with AD pathogenesis by disrupting neuroinflammation and metabolic homeostasis,” they noted, adding that “the gut microbiota has gone from being the forgotten organ to a potential key player in the AD pathology.”17
Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies
Optimizing your gut flora is a key strategy to preventing Alzheimer’s and a host of other chronic diseases. To do this, avoid processed foods, antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and be sure to eat traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with taking a high-quality probiotic if needed.
Maintaining a healthy gut is one of the healthy lifestyle parameters outlined by Dr. Dale Bredesen, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, and author of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline.”18
Bredesen’s ReCODE protocol evaluates 150 factors, including biochemistry, genetics and historical imaging, known to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. This identifies your disease subtype or combination of subtypes so an effective treatment protocol can be devised.
Time-restricted eating, or fasting, is another important strategy, as is reducing your intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids, also called PUFAs, found in vegetable oils, edible oils, seed oils, trans fat and plant oils. A high-fat, moderate-protein, low net-carb ketogenic diet is ideal for preventing degeneration that can lead to Alzheimer’s,19 and this will also help to nourish a healthy gut.
Overall, nourishing your brain health is best done with a comprehensively healthy lifestyle. By leveraging 36 healthy lifestyle parameters, Bredesen was able to reverse Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 patients.
This included the use of exercise, ketogenic diet, optimizing vitamin D and other hormones, increasing sleep, meditation, detoxification and eliminating gluten and processed food. For more details, you can download Bredesen’s full-text case paper online, which details the full program.20
- 1 Alzheimer’s Association, Facts and Figures
- 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 Science Daily November 13, 2020
- 3 J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;78(2):683-697. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200306
- 5 Brain Circulation 2019 Jul-Sep; 5(3): 124–129
- 9 Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience November 10, 2016
- 10 Medical News Daily November 11, 2016
- 11 IntechOpen November 5, 2018, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.79088
- 12 Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Feb 29; 12(4): 4010–4039, Intro
- 13 Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Feb 29; 12(4): 4010–4039
- 14 Scientific Reports October 18, 2017; 7, Article Number 13510
- 15, 16 J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 Jun; 75(7): 1232–1241
- 17 J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 Jun; 75(7): 1232–1241, Intro, under Table 1
- 18 Amazon
- 19 J Alzheimers Dis. 2012; 32(2):329-339
- 20 Aging September 27, 2014; 6(9): 707-717
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked December 12, 2020
- Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, presents valuable information on the importance of vitamin C for disease treatment, including COVID-19
- Vitamin C at extremely high doses acts as an antiviral drug, actually killing viruses
- Saul states that, based on decades of expert research and clinical usage, the coronavirus pandemic can be dramatically slowed, or stopped, with the immediate widespread use of high doses of vitamin C
- Facebook has blocked much of Saul’s information relating to vitamin C and COVID-19, claiming it’s false, based on the opinion of anonymous fact-checkers, most of whom have no formal medical training
- The government of Shanghai, China, officially recommends treating COVID-19 with intravenous vitamin C at a dose of 200 mg per kg of body weight per day; the protocol was published by the Chinese Medical Association
- Saul believes vitamin C is the most important “crisis therapy” for those who find themselves in the intensive care unit, extremely ill and at risk of dying from COVID-19, as well as the least expensive preventive for the general public
In the video above, Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, presents valuable information on the importance of vitamin C for disease treatment, including COVID-19 — information that’s being widely silenced via organized censorship.1
His Tokyo presentation, “Orthomolecular Medicine and Coronavirus Disease: Historical Basis for Nutritional Treatment,” highlights the fact that when used as a treatment, high doses of vitamin C — often 1,000 times more than the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) — are needed.
It’s a cornerstone of medical science that dose affects treatment outcome, but this premise isn’t accepted when it comes to vitamin therapy the way it is with drug therapy. Most vitamin C research has used inadequate, low doses, which don’t lead to clinical results.
“The medical literature has ignored over 80 years of laboratory and clinical studies on high-dose ascorbate (vitamin C) therapy,” Saul notes, adding that while it’s widely accepted that vitamin C is beneficial in fighting illness, controversy exists over to what extent. “Moderate quantities provide effective prevention,” he says, while “large quantities are therapeutic.”
Three Pioneers of High-Dose Vitamin C Therapy
Vitamin C is perhaps most well-known for its antioxidant properties — properties it maintains because of an ability to donate electrons to oxidized molecules. Even in small quantities, vitamin C helps protect proteins, lipids and DNA and RNA in your body from reactive oxygen species that are generated during normal metabolism as well as due to toxin exposure (such as to cigarette smoke and air pollution).
Vitamin C is also involved in the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine and catecholamines, according to Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., and as such, “vitamin C participates in immune function, wound healing, fatty acid metabolism, neurotransmitter production and blood vessel formation, as well as other key processes and pathways.”2
Vitamin C at extremely high doses, however, acts as an antiviral drug, actually killing viruses. While it does have anti-inflammatory activity, which helps prevent the massive cytokine cascade associated with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, its antiviral capacity likely has more to do with it being a non-rate-limited free radical scavenger. Three pioneers of high-dose vitamin C therapy include:
1.Dr. Claus Washington Jungeblut — A professor of bacteriology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Jungeblut was a pioneer polio researcher and the first to report that vitamin C is an antiviral antitoxin. Vitamin C was used as prevention and treatment for polio, an idea first published by Jungeblut in 1935.3
“It’s astonishing to many that if vitamin C were proven to be an antiviral, even in small doses, back in the 1930s, that interest would be there now, in the COVID pandemic, to use vitamin C as a preventive and, indeed, as a treatment for viral disease at the present time,” Saul says.
2.Dr. Frederick Robert Klenner — For decades, Klenner, a North Carolina-based board-certified chest specialist, treated patients with injections of vitamin C ranging from 300 milligrams (mg) to 1,200 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day, successfully treating polio, pneumonia and other serious viral diseases.4
Klenner, the first physician to use vitamin C therapy with 40 years of medical practice, said, “When proper amounts are used, ascorbic acid will destroy all virus organisms.”
3.Dr. Robert F. Cathcart III — Cathcart was a California physician and orthopedic surgeon who developed the value of vitamin C as an antiviral and used oral and IV doses of up to 200,000 mg per day. Beginning in the late 1960s, Cathcart used large doses of vitamin C to successfully treat viral illnesses including influenza, pneumonia, hepatitis and AIDS.
It’s often asked how you can determine if you’ve taken too much vitamin C, and Cathcart described this in great detail in a paper in 1981.5 With oral doses, when you’ve had all the vitamin C your body can handle, you’ll develop loose stools. With intravenous vitamin C, however, this doesn’t occur. Liposomal vitamin C will also allow you to take much higher dosages without getting loose stools.
You can take up to 100 grams (100,000 mg) of liposomal vitamin C without problems and get really high blood levels, equivalent to or higher than intravenous vitamin C. This should be viewed as an acute treatment, however.
Fact Checkers Flagged Expert Vitamin C Opinion as False
Cathcart, a physician with decades of experience using vitamin C to treat viral illness, said, “I have not seen any flu yet that was not cured or markedly ameliorated by massive doses of vitamin C.” Saul believes this would apply to any viral illness, including COVID-19. He posted the quote on Facebook, which quickly flagged it as “false information” according to its fact-checkers:
“Some so-called fact-checkers, employed by Facebook, decided that this statement is false. I do not understand how the opinion of a medical doctor can be considered false. You can disagree with it, but it’s not false. If this is what the doctor observed, if this is the doctor’s professional opinion, it is a valid point of view. But not on Facebook.”
February 12, 2020, Saul made the statement on Facebook that based on the research of Jungeblut, Klenner and Cathcart, “The coronavirus pandemic can be dramatically slowed, or stopped, with the immediate widespread use of high doses of vitamin C.” Facebook immediately blocked his post claiming it was false, based on the opinion — again — of anonymous fact-checkers, most of whom have no formal medical training.
He responded, “Preventing and treating respiratory infections with large amounts of vitamin C is well established. Those who believe that vitamin C generally has merit but massive doses are ineffective or somehow harmful would do well to read the original papers for themselves.”
Saul adds that while other nutrients are also important, he believes vitamin C is the most important “crisis therapy” for those who find themselves in the intensive care unit, extremely ill and at risk of dying from COVID-19. It’s also the least expensive preventive for the general public.
“After I posted that one mention about vitamin C and COVID,” Saul said, “vitamin C started selling out and disappearing from shelves in stores around the world. So I guess the fact-checkers were a little bit late. But ultimately, they did shut down the spread of this information — information about viruses being treated with vitamin C.”6
Chinese Physicians Recommend Vitamin C Treatment for COVID
Saul also highlights a study, published in Chinese, that detailed the accounts of four patients admitted to Xi’an Jiaotong University Second Hospital with COVID-19, who recovered in February 2020.
“High-dose vitamin C achieved good results in clinical applications,” the researchers noted, adding, “Vitamin C treatment should be initiated as soon as possible after admission,” and, “High-dose vitamin C can not only improve antiviral levels, but more importantly, can prevent and treat acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress.”
Although Saul shared this information, it was not picked up by the media. Another quote from Dr. ZhiYong Peng, chief of critical care at Zhongnan Hospital, Wuhan University, reads:
“In my department and other hospitals we highly recommend the patients use 12,000 milligrams to 24,000 mg a day of vitamin C. That works for significant reduction of COVID becoming a severe case. In my hospital, all the medical professionals are given vitamin C powder, to take 1,000 to 2,000 mg. I heard that the majority of the major hospitals in Wuhan are giving vitamin C powder to their medical professionals.”
Further, according to Saul, the government of Shanghai, China, officially recommends treating COVID-19 with intravenous vitamin C at a dose of 200 mg per kg of body weight per day, an adult intravenous dosage of approximately 16,000 mg/day. The protocol was published by the Chinese Medical Association.7 Facebook and its fact-checkers, again disagreed, flagging the information as “partly false.”
“They never contacted me to check my sources … They never contacted the hospitals … or anyone in China … They never contacted the experts that we quoted, and they never contacted the government of Shanghai,” Saul said. “They simply decided it was false news, and that was the end of it. I believe withholding vitamin C treatment information from the public withholds it from the patient. I accuse the media of negligence.”
Lancet Suggests High-Dose Vitamin C as ‘Rescue Therapy’
Even a commentary published in The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine in March 2020 states, “Rescue therapy with high-dose vitamin C can also be considered”8 in patients with respiratory failure from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by COVID-19. “Very little has been done with this, unfortunately,” Saul states, despite it having been published in the earliest months of the pandemic.
Other articles and YouTube videos from physicians supporting the use of vitamin C for COVID-19 have also been censored or removed completely. One objection sometimes given is that high-dose vitamin C is dangerous, but as Saul notes, it’s one of the most studied therapies in history.
In 2007, a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine by Harri Hemila, considered to be an authority on vitamin C, called potential harms of large doses of vitamin C “unfounded,” and stated that patients with pneumonia can take up to 100 grams a day of vitamin C without developing diarrhea, “possibly because of the changes in vitamin C metabolism caused by the severe infection.”9
Past research by Hemila and colleagues found that 17,000 mg/day of intravenous vitamin C shortened intensive care unit stays by 44%.10 According to Saul, Dr. Richard Cheng, a Chinese American physician, further reported that about 50 moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 infection were treated with high-dose vitamin C, involving 10,000 mg for moderate cases and 20,000 mg for more severe cases, for seven to 10 days.
Not only did all of the patients improve, but there were no side effects reported from the vitamin C therapy. “You guessed it,” Saul said, “Fact-checkers said it’s false. Facebook said it’s false. The media said it’s false. And this report, by a physician direct from Shanghai, who personally worked with the chief of emergency medicine of a major hospital, right there, and had success … all of this was called false information and banned from Facebook.”
‘This Is Organized Censorship’
In February 2020, Saul reports, the World Health Organization met with about a dozen tech companies, including Google, Amazon and YouTube, instructing them to stop the spread of coronavirus misinformation. The group, which planned to meet every few months, has been targeting information related to natural health treatments like vitamin C, calling them fake news and conspiracies.11
But in reality, Saul said, the labeling of vitamin C for COVID-19 as fake news is “organized censorship. This does fit the description of conspiracy. They are trying to stop the information on vitamin C from getting out. And, unfortunately, to a large extent they have succeeded.”
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, on the record in 2016, “Take vitamin C. It can enhance your body’s defense against microbes.”12
Then, during the pandemic, he mentioned it again, in an Instagram interview, where he said that vitamin D will help your body resist infection, and added, “The other vitamin that people take is vitamin C because it’s a good antioxidant, so if people want to take a gram or so of vitamin C, that would be fine.”13,14
Cheng also interviewed a family in Wuhan, China, which took large doses of vitamin C and didn’t get COVID-19, despite close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient. The video was removed by YouTube. “I can’t believe this is happening,” Cheng said.
Dr. Paul Marik has also shown a protocol of intravenous vitamin C with hydrocortisone and thiamine (vitamin B1) dramatically improves survival rates in patients with sepsis. Since sepsis is one of the reasons people die from COVID-19 infection, Marik’s vitamin C protocol may go a long way toward saving people’s lives in this pandemic.
That protocol calls for 1,500 mg of ascorbic acid every six hours, and appears radically effective. However, I would recommend taking even higher doses using liposomal vitamin C if you’re taking it orally.
Personally, I discourage people from taking mega doses of vitamin C on a regular basis if they’re not actually sick. I view high dose vitamin C as a very safe and effective intervention for acute upper respiratory infections largely because it converts to hydrogen peroxide, which your body uses to fight infections.
I don’t believe it is necessary to take high doses for long periods of time, however. Vitamin C’s potential for treating severe illness, and helping to prevent it, is something that should be widely shared, not silenced.
For more information and further reading, Saul’s Orthomolecular Medicine News Service has an archive of several dozen news releases on COVID-19 and nutrition that you probably have not seen in the media.15
- 1 Vimeo
- 2 Found My Fitness, Vitamin C
- 3 J Exp Med. 1935 Sep 30;62(4):517-21. doi: 10.1084/jem.62.4.517.
- 4 Journal of Applied Nutrition 1971 Vol. 23, No’s 3 & 4, p6l-88.
- 5 Med Hypotheses. 1981 Nov;7(11):1359-76. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(81)90126-2.
- 6 Facebook, Andrew Saul, The Megavitamin Man
- 7 Chinese Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2020,38(00) : E016-E016. DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.issn.1000-6680.2020.0016
- 8 The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine May 1, 2020 Volume 8, Issue 5, P433-434
- 9 J R Soc Med. 2007 Nov; 100(11): 495–498.
- 10 Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 708.
- 11 CNBC February 14, 2020
- 12 Washingtonian January 15, 2016
- 13 Instagram September 9, 2020
- 14 Health September 14, 2020
- 15 Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, News Releases 2020
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked December 11, 2020
- A scientific review published in 2006 concluded that epidemic seasonal influenza is most likely related to the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency during winter months. Since then, other studies have confirmed this theory
- A 2010 study found there’s an inverse relationship between UVB sun exposure — which is how your body synthesizes vitamin D naturally — and influenza deaths
- Vitamin D protects against tuberculosis, a fatal lung disease that kills an estimated 1.8 million people around the world each year
- According to recent research, 82.2% of COVID-19 patients tested were found to be deficient in vitamin D, and vitamin D status has been shown to influence your risk of testing positive for COVID-19, hospitalization rates and need for intensive care, as well as your risk of dying from the infection
- Vitamin D can reduce your risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by reducing the survival and replication of viruses, reducing inflammatory cytokine production, maintaining endothelial integrity and increasing ACE2 concentrations, which helps lower COVID-19 severity
As temperatures drop, rates of respiratory infections — the common cold and influenza, primarily — increase exponentially. Many believe this has to do with the drop in temperature, but cold exposure actually ramps up your immune system, making you less prone to infection.
According to a 2002 study1,2 by the U.S. and Canadian armies, cold exposure can double the number of natural killer (NK) cells in your body, which are part of your first line of defense against pathogenic infiltration and other types of cell damage.
As detailed by retired nurse and academic teacher John Campbell in the video above, a scientific review3 published in 2006 concluded that epidemic seasonal influenza is most likely related to the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency during winter months. According to the authors:4
“In 1981, R. Edgar Hope-Simpson proposed that a ‘seasonal stimulus’ intimately associated with solar radiation explained the remarkable seasonality of epidemic influenza.
Solar radiation triggers robust seasonal vitamin D production in the skin; vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter, and activated vitamin D, 1,25(OH)2D, a steroid hormone, has profound effects on human immunity.
1,25(OH)2D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive expression of inflammatory cytokines and increasing the ‘oxidative burst’ potential of macrophages.
Perhaps most importantly, it dramatically stimulates the expression of potent anti-microbial peptides, which exist in neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract where they play a major role in protecting the lung from infection.”
Inverse Relationship Between Flu Deaths and UVB Exposure
While vitamin D has been linked to many health benefits, the relationship between vitamin D and infectious disease is particularly robust. For example, a 2010 study6 by Norwegian researchers found there’s an inverse relationship between UVB sun exposure — which is how your body synthesizes vitamin D naturally — and influenza deaths. According to the authors:7
“Non-pandemic influenzas mostly occur in the winter season in temperate regions. UVB calculations show that at high latitudes very little, if any, vitamin D is produced in the skin during the winter.
Even at 26°N (Okinawa) there is about four times more UVB during the summer than during the winter. In tropical regions there are two minor peaks in vitamin D photosynthesis, and practically no seasonality of influenza.
Pandemics may start with a wave in an arbitrary season, while secondary waves often occur the following winter. Thus, it appears that a low vitamin D status may play a significant role in most influenzas The data support the hypothesis that high fluences of UVB radiation (vitamin D level), as occur in the summer, act in a protective manner with respect to influenza.”
Vitamin D Protects Against Fatal Lung Disease
Other studies8,9,10 have confirmed the long-held belief that vitamin D protects against tuberculosis, a fatal lung disease that kills an estimated 1.8 million people around the world each year.11 This is largely related to vitamin D stimulating antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) like cathelicidin (LL37).
In the past, tuberculosis was treated by making sure patients got plenty of sun exposure. In fact Finsen was given the Nobel Prize in 1903 for this determination. Around the turn of the 20th century regular sun exposure was the most effective clinical strategy for the treatment of tuberculosis, but was eventually phased out with the development of antibiotics.
A 2011 study in Science Translational Medicine examined the mechanisms responsible for your immune system’s ability to ward against tuberculosis, concluding that T cells play a central role. They release a protein called interferon-g, which in turn activates the release of AMPs so your immune cells can mount an effective attack against the tuberculosis bacteria.
However, in order for this activation to occur, you have to have sufficient levels of vitamin D. In patients with low vitamin D levels, this immune response was not activated. Meanwhile, among those with adequate levels, there was an 85% reduction of colony-forming tuberculosis bacteria. As reported by UCLA:12
“The team noted that vitamin D may help both innate and adaptive immunity, two systems that work synergistically together to fight infections. Previous research by the team found that vitamin D played a key role in the production of a molecule called cathelicidin, which helps the innate immune system kill the tuberculosis bacteria.
Humans are born with innate immunity, which is the preprogrammed part of the immune system. The current research findings demonstrate that vitamin D is also critical for the action of T cells, key players in adaptive immunity, a highly specialized system that humans acquire over time as they encounter different pathogens.”
More Than 80% of COVID Patients Are Vitamin D Deficient
Currently, the respiratory infection of note is of course COVID-19, and vitamin D appears to have a lot to do with your risk of this infection as well. According to a Spanish study13,14,15 published online October 27, 2020, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 82.2% of COVID-19 patients tested were found to be deficient in vitamin D. As reported by the authors:16
“In COVID-19 patients, mean± SD 25OHD levels were 13.8±7.2 ng/ml, compared to 20.9 ±7.4 ng/ml in controls. 25OHD values were lower in men than in women. Vitamin D deficiency was found in 82.2% of COVID-19 cases and 47.2% of population-based controls.
25OHD inversely correlate to serum ferritin and D-dimer levels. Vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients had a greater prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, raised serum ferritin and troponin levels, as well as a longer length of hospital stay than those with serum 25 OHD levels ≥ 20 ng/ml.”
While this particular study failed to find a correlation between vitamin D levels and disease severity, other studies have shown patients with higher levels do tend to have milder disease. In fact, one such study17,18 found your risk of developing a severe case of, and dying from, COVID-19 virtually disappears once your vitamin D level gets above 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L).
SARS-CoV-2 positivity is strongly and inversely associated with circulating 25(OH)D levels, a relationship that persists across latitudes, races/ethnicities, both sexes, and age ranges. ~ PLOS ONE September 17, 2020
Other research19 looking at vitamin D and COVID-19 mortality found those with a vitamin D level between 21 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) and 29 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) had a 12.55 times higher risk of death than those with a level above 30 ng/mL. Having a level below 20 ng/mL was associated with a 19.12 times higher risk of death.
Vitamin D Lowers Your Risk of a Positive COVID-19 Test
Vitamin D has also been linked to a lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19. This, the largest observational study20 to date, looked at data for 191,779 American patients who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 between March and June 2020 and had had their vitamin D tested sometime in the preceding 12 months.
Of those with a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml (deficiency), 12.5% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, compared to 8.1% of those who had a vitamin D level between 30 and 34 ng/ml (adequacy) and 5.9% of those who had an optimal vitamin D level of 55 ng/ml or higher. As noted by the authors:21
“SARS-CoV-2 positivity is strongly and inversely associated with circulating 25(OH)D levels, a relationship that persists across latitudes, races/ethnicities, both sexes, and age ranges.”
How Vitamin D Impacts COVID-19
In June 2020, I launched an information campaign about vitamin D that included the release of a downloadable scientific report. This report, as well as a two-minute COVID risk quiz is available on StopCovidCold.com.
October 31, 2020, my review paper22 “Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity,” co-written with William Grant, Ph.D., and Dr. Carol Wagner, both of whom are part of the GrassrootsHealth expert vitamin D panel, was also published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. You can read the paper for free on the journal’s website.
As noted in that paper, dark skin color, increased age, pre-existing chronic conditions and vitamin D deficiency are all features of severe COVID disease, and of these, vitamin D deficiency is the only factor that is readily and easily modifiable.
You may be able to reverse chronic disease, but that typically takes time. Optimizing your vitamin D, on the other hand, can be achieved in just a few weeks, thereby significantly lowering your risk of severe COVID-19.
In our paper, we review several of the mechanisms by which vitamin D can reduce your risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, including but not limited to the following:23
- Reducing the survival and replication of viruses24
- Reducing inflammatory cytokine production
- Maintaining endothelial integrity — Endothelial dysfunction contributes to vascular inflammation and impaired blood clotting, two hallmarks of severe COVID-19
- Increasing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) concentrations, which prevents the virus from entering cells via the ACE2 receptor — ACE2 is downregulated by SARS-CoV-2 infection, and by increasing ACE2, you also avoid excessive accumulation of angiotensin II, a peptide hormone known to increase the severity of COVID-19
Vitamin D is also an important component of COVID-19 prevention and treatment for the fact that it:
- Boosts your overall immune function by modulating your innate and adaptive immune responses
- Reduces respiratory distress25
- Improves overall lung function
- Helps produce surfactants in your lungs that aid in fluid clearance26
- Lowers your risk of comorbidities associated with poor COVID-19 prognosis, including obesity,27 Type 2 diabetes,28 high blood pressure29 and heart disease30
Data from 14 observational studies — summarized in Table 1 of our paper31 — suggest that vitamin D blood levels are inversely correlated with the incidence and/or severity of COVID-19, and the evidence currently available generally satisfies Hill’s criteria for causality in a biological system.32
COVID-19 Features Related to Vitamin D Status
Our paper33 also details several features of COVID-19 that suggest vitamin D deficiency is at play. For starters, SARS-CoV-2 emerged in the winter in the northern hemisphere, and as we moved into summer, positive tests, hospitalizations and death rates fell. So, generally, COVID-19 prevalence has been inversely correlated with solar UVB doses and vitamin D production, just like seasonal influenza.
Secondly, people with darker skin have higher COVID-19 case and death rates than Caucasians. Vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sun exposure, but the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need in order to maintain an optimal vitamin D level. As a result, vitamin D deficiency tends to be far higher among Blacks and dark-skinned Hispanics.
Thirdly, one of the lethal hallmarks of COVID-19 is the cytokine storm that can develop in severe cases, which manifests as hyperinflammation and tissue damage. Vitamin D is known to regulate inflammatory cytokine production, thereby lowering this risk. Lastly, vitamin D is an important regulator of your immune system, and dysregulation of the immune system is a hallmark of severe COVID-19.
England to Hand Out Free Vitamin D Supplements
According to a November 28, 2020, BBC News report,34 British health officials are now recommending people take supplemental vitamin D this winter to reduce their risk of respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
Similar recommendations have been issued to the government health officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, no such recommendations have been issued in the U.S., which is why sharing this information is so important.
Senior care homes in the U.K. will receive enough vitamin D supplements to cover all residents, and people on the “clinically extremely vulnerable” list35 will have the option to get four months’ worth of free vitamin D supplements delivered to their homes starting in January 2021.
Even though the dose she recommended is 100% to 180% lower than the ideal range of 6,000 to 8,000 units per day, nevertheless chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Dr. Alison Tedstone, told the BBC:36
“We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, take a vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day. This year, the advice is more important than ever with more people spending more time inside, which is why the government will be helping the clinically extremely vulnerable to get vitamin D.”
Co-Nutrients Reduce Your Vitamin D Requirement
If you cannot get sufficient amounts of sun exposure to maintain a vitamin D blood level of 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) to 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L), a vitamin D3 supplement is highly recommended. Just remember that the most important factor here is your blood level, not the dose, so before you start, get tested so you know your baseline. This will help you determine your ideal dose, as it can vary widely from person to person.
Also remember that you can minimize your vitamin D requirement by making sure you’re also getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form,37,38,39,40 and research41 has confirmed higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency by activating more of it.
A scientific review42,43 published in 2018 concluded that up to half of all Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form, and the reason for this is because their magnesium levels are too low.
Research by GrassrootsHealth reveals taking supplemental magnesium can lower your vitamin D need by 146%. Vitamin K2 is another important cofactor, and taking both magnesium and vitamin K2 can lower your vitamin D requirement by as much as 244%.44
All in all, the evidence is unmistakable: Optimizing your vitamin D can go a long way toward minimizing your chances of contracting a respiratory infection, be it the common cold, seasonal influenza or COVID-19.
Mounting evidence also demonstrates that if you do end up contracting COVID-19, having adequate vitamin D will lower the odds of you requiring hospitalization45 and intensive care46,47,48,49 as it reduces the severity of the infection.50,51 As detailed earlier, vitamin D also lowers your risk of dying from COVID-19.52,53,54,55,56
I urge everyone to share this information so that we can minimize additional outbreaks. Again, if you live in the northern hemisphere, now is the time to check your vitamin D level and start taking action to raise it if you’re below 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L). Experts recommend a vitamin D level between 40 and 60 ng/mL (100 to 150 nmol/L).
An easy and cost-effective way of measuring your vitamin D level is to order GrassrootsHealth’s vitamin D testing kit. Also, if you haven’t already visited www.stopcovidcold.com please do so now so you can take your free COVID risk test and grab a free PDF copy of my vitamin D report, which has far better graphics than what we were able to put into our Nutrients paper.
Once you know your current vitamin D level, use the GrassrootsHealth vitamin D calculator57 to determine how much vitamin D you might need to reach your target level, and remember that increasing your magnesium and vitamin K2 intake will optimize your vitamin D absorption and utilization.
Retest your vitamin D level in three to four months to make sure you’ve reached your target level. If you have, then you’re taking the correct dosage. If you’re still low (or have reached a level above 80 ng/mL), you’ll need to adjust your dosage accordingly and retest again in another three to four months.
- 1 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2002 DOI: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000041400.21166.79 (PDF)
- 2 Medium March 13, 2020
- 3, 4, 5 Epidemiol. Infect. 2006; 134: 1129-1140 (PDF)
- 6 International Journal of Infectious Diseases December 2010; 14(12): e1099-e1105
- 7 International Journal of Infectious Diseases December 2010; 14(12): e1099-e1105, Results
- 8, 11, 12 UCLA Health October 12, 2011
- 9 Science Translational Medicine October 12, 2011; 3(104): 104ra102
- 10 PLOS Med September 11, 2019;16(9):e1002907
- 13 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism October 27, 2020; dgaa733 [Epub ahead of print]
- 14 Endocrine.org October 27, 2020
- 15 Science Daily October 27, 2020
- 16 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism October 27, 2020; dgaa733 [Epub ahead of print], Results
- 17 Infectious Diseases April 8, 2020 DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-21211/v1
- 18 Orthomolecular Medicine News Service June 22, 2020
- 19, 54 Emerginnova.com June 4, 2020
- 20 PLOS ONE September 17, 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239252
- 21 PLOS ONE September 17, 2020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239252, Abstract
- 22, 23, 33 Nutrients October 31, 2020;12, 3361; doi:10.3390/nu12113361
- 24 Nutrients, 2020;12:988
- 25 Advances in Pharmacological Sciences 2018; 2018: 8494816
- 26 ATS Journals October 5, 2010; 183(10)
- 27 Medicina 2019 Sep; 55(9): 541
- 28 Diabetes.co.uk January 15, 2019
- 29 The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology September 1, 2014; 2(9): 682-684
- 30 Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine 2012 Aug; 14(4): 414–424
- 31 Nutrients October 31, 2020;12, 3361; doi:10.3390/nu12113361, Table 1
- 32 Nutrients October 31, 2020;12, 3361; doi:10.3390/nu12113361, Table 3
- 34, 36 BBC November November 28, 2020
- 35 Gov.uk Definition of Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Groups
- 37 Live Science February 26, 2018
- 38 Medicalxpress.com February 27, 2018
- 39 News-Medical.net February 26, 2018
- 40 Wellandgood.com February 26, 2018
- 41 BMC Medicine 2013; 11: 187
- 42 Journal of the American Osteopathic Association March 2018; 118: 181-189
- 43 Science Daily February 2018
- 44 GrassrootsHealth Magnesium and Vitamin K2 Combined Important for Vitamin D Levels
- 45 The FEBS Journal July 2020; 287(17)
- 46 The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology August 29, 2020 [Epub ahead of print]
- 47 Chrismasterjohnphd.com September 3, 2020
- 48 Medium September 4, 2020
- 49 GrassrootsHealth, Vitamin D treatment for COVID-19 patients nearly erased need for ICU admission
- 50, 52 Nutrients 2020; 12(9): 2757
- 51, 53 GrassrootsHealth, 15 fold higher risk of death due to COVID-19 with vitamin D below 12 ng/mL
- 55 Preprints with The Lancet July 14, 2020
- 56 GrassrootsHealth, Higher Vitamin D status associated with better clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19
- 57 GrassrootsHealth Vitamin D Calculator
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked December 07, 2020
- Choline plays a crucial role in cognitive function and liver health. It was once known as vitamin B4 and wasn’t recognized as an essential nutrient until 1998
- Choline is important in physical performance as it supports muscle function. Krill oil may help retain serum concentrations of choline during and after intense physical activity
- Evidence suggests people with higher levels of serum choline have better survival rates from hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
- Krill oil may lead to higher levels of important metabolites than choline bitartrate salt commonly used in choline supplements
- Foods rich in choline include egg yolks, grass fed beef liver, roe fish eggs and wild-caught Alaskan salmon
Choline is an essential nutrient, but it is not usually classified as a vitamin. According to Biology Online, a vitamin is “a low molecular weight organic compound that is essential for normal growth and metabolic processes and is required in trace amounts.”1 Since your body can produce some choline in the liver, it is not classified as a vitamin.
Your body needs fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins to function optimally. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissue and the liver.2 They include vitamins A, D, E and K. Water-soluble vitamins are not easily stored and the excess is normally flushed out of your body in the urine. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and all the B vitamins.
Choline is found in fat-soluble and water-soluble compounds in your food.3 Enzymes in your body free the choline from the compounds in your food where it’s absorbed in the small intestines and moved to the liver. Choline is then sent around your body to help make cell membranes.
Your body does not naturally produce enough choline to meet your needs. Therefore, you must get some from the food you eat.4 Choline levels are not routinely measured, but most people in the U.S. eat less than the recommended amount of foods containing choline.
While symptoms of a frank deficiency in healthy children and adults are rare, insufficient choline may be linked to health conditions including neurological degeneration and liver disease. Choline functions in the body overlap those of B vitamins, which in part may explain how choline was originally called vitamin B4.
Choline Was Once Considered a Vitamin
The earliest recorded information about choline occurred in 1862 when Adolph Strecker found that when lecithin was heated it generated a new chemical.5 He named that chemical choline. Three years later Oscar Liebreich identified a new molecule in the human brain that he named “neurine” and which later turned out to be identical to choline.
Nearly 100 years later in 1954, Eugene Kennedy described a pathway the body uses to incorporate choline into phosphatidylcholine. By this time scientists had identified many of the B complex vitamins.6
It wasn’t until 1998, though, that the Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Medicine recognized choline as an essential nutrient.7 In the fall of 2020, Elena Gagliardi from the ambulatory nutrition services department at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center spoke with a reporter from U.S. News & World Report and explained that choline is not a vitamin.8
Instead, it is “a chemical compound vital for its many roles in the body.”9 Adenine is a chemical constituent of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), which helps convert choline in the mitochondrial matrix.10
There is a close relationship between adenine and choline — so much so that some also refer to adenine as vitamin B411 and others use the terms interchangeably.12 However, it doesn’t matter what term is used, choline is a crucial nutrient for health and wellness.
Choline Is Crucial to Cognitive Function and Liver Health
According to a paper in Nutrition Today, the adequate intake (AI) for choline was calculated when the population levels of it were relatively unknown. Rather than being calculated based on experimental determinations or estimations of intake, it was calculated in part based on a study of adult men who developed liver damage after becoming deficient in it.13
The AI levels for others were then extrapolated based on standard reference weights. However, recent analysis has shown nearly 90% of people living in the U.S. do not eat enough choline-rich foods. Added to this, the 2015 to 2020 dietary guidelines for Americans did not recommend sufficient choline-rich foods to meet your needs.
A deficiency in choline can have wide-ranging effects. For example, there are indications that cholinergic dysfunction impacts the development of dementia. Studies and reviews of the literature supported the hypothesis that cholinergic dysfunction contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.14,15
Subsequently, it was discovered acetylcholine plays a central role in the nervous system, which requires an enzyme to synthesize it from acetyl-CoA and choline.16 The enzyme is called acetyltransferase. This connection likely explains, at least in part, the effect that anticholinergic drugs have on short-term cognitive impairment in the elderly.17
The medications act on acetylcholine, which sends messages that affect muscle contraction and the part of the brain that handles memory and learning. In one study, 347 participants who had experienced a stroke were given citicoline for 12 months. This is a supplemental combination of choline and cytidine.18
At the end of 12 months, the researchers found the supplement improved cognitive decline in the participants and “appears to be a promising agent to improve recovery after stroke.” Choline may also be a key factor in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is one of the most common forms of liver disease in the U.S.19
In part, NAFLD is triggered by obesity and insulin resistance, which scientists find leads to fibrosis and then cirrhosis or liver cancer. There are two forms that are not associated with alcohol consumption. The first is simple fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and the second is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
NAFL involves little inflammation or cellular damage, while NASH can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. In one study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found women of normal weight who had the highest dietary intake of choline had a lower risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.20
Choline Has a Significant Impact on More Body Systems
According to Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D., choline deficiency may be more significant in the development of NAFLD than consuming too much fructose. His degree is in nutritional science and he believes the rise in fatty liver conditions is largely due to dietary changes.
In his review of the medical literature, Masterjohn found a link between choline and fatty liver, which was initially discovered in research into Type 1 diabetes. He describes the relationship:21
“In 1949, however, researchers showed that sucrose and ethanol had equal potential to cause fatty liver and the resulting inflammatory damage, and that increases in dietary protein, extra methionine, and extra choline could all completely protect against this effect.
Conversely, much more recent research has shown that sucrose is a requirement for the development of fatty liver disease in a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) model. The MCD model of fatty liver disease is the oldest and most widely used dietary model.
The MCD model produces not only the accumulation of liver fat, but massive inflammation similar to the worst forms of fatty liver disease seen in humans. What no one ever mentions about this diet is that it is primarily composed of sucrose and its fat is composed entirely of corn oil!
The picture that is clearly emerging from all of these studies is that fat, or anything from which fat is made in the liver, such as fructose and ethanol, are required for the development of fatty liver. But in addition to this [same] factor — overwhelmingly, it appears to be choline deficiency — must deprive the liver of its ability to export that fat.”
In one study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers enrolled 866 patients with newly diagnosed hepatocellular carcinoma to test survival rates as compared to serum choline levels.22 The data showed patients with higher serum choline levels had better survival rates from liver cancer than those with lower levels.
Choline is a building block of acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine, a component of very low density lipoproteins.23 The brain uses phosphatidylcholine to make acetylcholine, which affects cognitive function. Phosphatidylcholine is also used in the treatment of several health conditions, including gallbladder disease, premenstrual syndrome and hepatitis.24
Krill Oil Supports Choline Levels and Physical Performance
Donald Layman, Ph.D., from the department of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, talked about the relationship between exercise performance and choline, saying:25
“Exercise increases energy expenditure, helps maintain body composition, and controls body weight. We all know that routine daily exercise is important, but we often forget that good nutrition choices are essential for optimal muscle performance.
Specifically, choline is part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine—the signal that stimulates muscle contraction, which supports muscle movement and performance. We also know that choline losses occur after exercise of only an hour, with a long run, cycling or a competitive tennis match.”
Choline plays a role in maintaining muscle function. Serum concentrations may be depleted during high-intensity exercise. In one study, researchers engaged 47 triathletes from age 25 to 61 from Ironman distance and Olympic distance triathlons. The group was split into two: 24 received daily krill supplements for five weeks before the race and 23 received a daily placebo of mixed vegetable oils.26
The athletes’ blood was tested before the race, immediately after and the following day. The researchers were analyzing serum choline levels and its metabolites. The data showed serum concentrations decreased significantly in all the races, but those receiving krill oil maintained more of their serum choline than those getting the placebo.
In one lab analysis, researchers found 69 choline-containing phospholipids in krill oil, which confirmed “the complexity of the phospholipid composition of krill oil.”27 The choline composition of krill oil may also be more bioavailable since “It has been suggested that 60% of choline in inorganic salts is lost to conversion to trimethylamine (TMA) by intestinal bacteria.”28
Enzymes may then turn TMA into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a potential biomarker for insulin resistance and heart problems. As noted by the researchers, “Choline in the form of PC is considerably less converted to TMA as demonstrated in a single-dose study with krill oil, potentially resulting in more efficient delivery of choline.”29
For example, evidence has shown that 28 days of krill oil supplementation increased choline levels in healthy young adults.30 Additionally, the researchers in this study noted: “no adverse effects on plasma levels of TMAO and carnitine were found.”
How to Get More Choline
In a study comparing phosphatidylcholine, present in krill oil, and choline bitartrate salt, it was found that the krill oil led to higher levels of the important metabolites betaine and dimethylglycine (DMG) along with lower levels of TMAO, which can lead to health issues, compared to the other choline sources.31
Krill oil also offers more nutrients, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are beneficial for heart health and have been shown to improve blood pressure,32 reduce overall inflammation, reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis33 and depression34 and help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.35
Egg yolks are another excellent choline source. Among egg consumers, approximately 57% met the adequate intake levels for choline, compared to just 2.4% of people who consumed no eggs.36
In fact, the researchers in this same analysis concluded that it’s “extremely difficult” to get enough choline unless you eat eggs or take a dietary supplement, though it’s preferable to get nutrients from dietary sources whenever possible. Other dietary sources of choline include:37,38
|Grass fed beef liver||Organic pasture raised chicken||Wild-caught Alaskan salmon|
|Roe fish eggs||Atlantic cod||Kidney beans|
|Shiitake mushroom||Cauliflower||Sunflower seeds|
- 1 Biology Online, Vitamin
- 2 Medline Plus, Definition of Health Terms: Vitamins
- 3, 4 National Institutes of Health, Choline
- 5 Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012;61(3)
- 6 ACS Axial, Celebrating the History of B Vitamin Research with ACS
- 7, 13 Nutrition Today, 2018;53(6)
- 8, 9 USA News, September 9, 2020
- 10 Oregon State University, Choline
- 11 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition, Vitamin B4 (Adenine)
- 12 Online Holistic Health, Vitamin B4 (Choline)
- 14 Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1999;66(2):137
- 15 Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 2008;8(11):1703
- 16 Current Neuropharmacology, 2016;14(1):101
- 17 JAMA Internal Medicine, 2019;179(8)
- 18 Cerebrovascular Disease, 2013;35(2)
- 19 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- 20 Journal of Nutrition, 2014;144(12)
- 21 Chris Masterjohn, November 23, 2010
- 22 Nutrition & Metabolism, 2020;17:25
- 23 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005;82(1)
- 24 RxList, Phosphatidylcholine, what is phosphatidylcholine?
- 25 PRNewswire, September 1, 2015
- 26, 28, 29 Frontiers in Nutrition, 2020;7:133
- 27 Lipids, 2011;46(1)
- 30 Lipids in Health and Disease, 2015;14:163
- 31 Nutrients. 2019 Oct; 11(10): 2548
- 32 American Journal of Hypertension, 2014;27(7)
- 33 Global Journal of Health Science, 2016;8(7)
- 34 Translational Psychiatry, 2019;9(190)
- 35 BioMed Research International, 2015;2015:172801
- 36 Nutrients, 2017;9(8)
- 37 National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
- 38 My Food Data, Top 10 Foods Highest in Choline
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked December 07, 2020
- Several recent studies demonstrate vitamin D can have a significantly beneficial impact on your cancer risk, both in terms of preventing cancer and in the treatment of cancer
- A secondary analysis of the VITAL study found patients with no prior history of cancer who took 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day reduced their risk for metastatic cancer and death by 17%
- The risk for metastatic cancer and death was reduced by as much as 38% among those who also maintained a healthy weight
- Another meta-analysis found supplementation with vitamin D resulted in a 30% reduction in adverse colorectal cancer outcomes. Vitamin D also improved outcomes among patients already diagnosed with colorectal cancer
- Research has also shown women who have a vitamin D level at or above 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L) have an 82% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those with levels below 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L)
There’s good news for those of you who have taken the proactive step to make sure your vitamin D level is optimized. Several recent studies demonstrate vitamin D can have a significantly beneficial impact on your cancer risk, both in terms of preventing cancer and in the treatment of cancer.
Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Mortality
In the first of these studies,1,2 which included 25,871 patients, vitamin D supplementation was found to reduce the risk for metastatic cancer and death by 17%. The risk was reduced by as much as 38% among those who also maintained a healthy weight.
This was a really poorly done study as they only gave participants 2,000 IUs a day and never measured their blood levels. Had there been no improvement, I would not have been surprised, but the fact is it still reduced metastatic cancer and death by 17%, and they found significant benefit among those who were not obese.
This is pretty extraordinary but not as good as epidemiological studies that show a 50% to even 78% reduction in vitamin D sufficient people, as suggested in a study further below. That said, UPI reported the results saying:3
“The benefits of vitamin D3 in limiting metastases — or disease spread to other organs — and severity was seen across all cancers, and was particularly prominent among study participants who maintained a healthy weight …
‘The primary message [of our study] is that vitamin D may reduce the chance of developing metastatic or fatal cancer among adults without a diagnosis of cancer,’ study co-author Dr. Paulette Chandler told UPI.”
The study, published in JAMA Network Open, is a secondary analysis of the VITAL Study4 which, in part, sought to determine whether taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day would reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke in people who did not have a prior history of these diseases.
The VITAL study itself, which followed patients for an average of 5.3 years, found no statistical difference in overall cancer rates among those who took vitamin D3, but there was a reduction in cancer-related deaths, which is what prompted this secondary analysis.
Obesity May Inhibit Vitamin D’s Benefits
The fact that patients with a healthy weight derived a much greater benefit — a 38% reduced risk for metastatic cancer and death compared to 17% overall — suggests your body weight may play a significant role in whether vitamin D supplementation will provide you with the anticancer benefits you seek.
Obesity may confer resistance to vitamin D effects. ~ Dr. Paulette Chandler
According to study co-author Dr. Paulette Chandler, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “Our study highlights that obesity may confer resistance to vitamin D effects.”5
There may be something to that. Research6 published in 2010 found that dietary fructose inhibits intestinal calcium absorption, thereby inducing vitamin D insufficiency in people with chronic kidney disease.
That said, vitamin D tends to be lower in obese people in general, for the fact that it’s a fat-soluble nutrient and when you’re obese, the vitamin D ends up being “volumetrically diluted.” As explained in the paper “Vitamin D in Obesity,” published in 2017:7
“Serum vitamin D is lower in obese people; it is important to understand the mechanism of this effect and whether it indicates clinically significant deficiency … Vitamin D is fat soluble, and distributed into fat, muscle, liver, and serum.
All of these compartments are increased in volume in obesity, so the lower vitamin D likely reflects a volumetric dilution effect and whole body stores of vitamin D may be adequate … Obese people need higher loading doses of vitamin D to achieve the same serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D as normal weight.”
While that particular paper stresses that lower vitamin D in obese individuals might not mean that they’re deficient, others disagree. For example, one study8,9 found that for every 10% increase in body-mass index, there’s a 4.2% reduction in blood levels of vitamin D. According to the authors of that particular study, obesity may in fact be a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency.10
Vitamin D Also Improves Colorectal Cancer Outcomes
A scientific review11 published in the September 2020 issue of the British Journal of Cancer noted that having low vitamin D is associated with poor colorectal cancer survival.
To assess whether vitamin D supplementation might improve survival in these patients, they reviewed the findings of seven trials, three of which included patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer from the outset and four population trials that reported survival in incident cases.
Overall, the meta-analysis found supplementation resulted in a 30% reduction in adverse colorectal cancer outcomes. Vitamin D also improved outcomes among patients already diagnosed with colorectal cancer. According to the authors:12
“Meta-analysis demonstrates a clinically meaningful benefit of vitamin D supplementation on [colorectal cancer] survival outcomes. Further well-designed, adequately powered RCTs are needed to … [determine] optimal dosing.”
Low Vitamin D Linked to Increased Cancer Incidence
Another review and meta-analysis,13 this one published in November 2019 in Bioscience Reports, looked at vitamin D supplementation on cancer incidence and mortality in general. Ten randomized controlled trials with a pool of 81,362 participants were included in the analysis.
While the incidence rate of cancer was very similar between the vitamin D intervention group and the placebo control group (9.16% versus 9.29%), the risk reduction in mortality was deemed “significant.” As reported by the authors:
“The mortality rate of cancer was 2.11% (821 cases) and 2.43% (942 cases) in vitamin D intervention group and placebo group, respectively, resulting in a significant reduction in risk (RR = 0.87).
There was no observable heterogeneity or publication bias … Our findings support a beneficial effect of vitamin D supplement on lowering cancer mortality, especially in subpopulations with no history of cancer, extra use of vitamin D, or calcium supplement.”
Vitamin D Protects Against Breast Cancer
Several studies have highlighted the benefit of vitamin D for breast cancer. For example, an analysis14 by GrassrootsHealth published June 2018 in PLOS ONE showed women with a vitamin D level at or above 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L) had an 82% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those with levels below 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L).
An earlier study,15,16 which looked at women in the U.K., found having a vitamin D level above 60 ng/mL resulted in an 83% lower breast cancer risk, which is nearly identical to GrassrootsHealth’s 2018 analysis.
One of the most recent meta-analyses17,18 looking at breast cancer was published December 28, 2019, in the journal Aging. Here, they reviewed 70 observational studies, finding that for each 2 ng/mL (5 nmol/L) increase in vitamin D level there was a corresponding 6% decrease in breast cancer incidence.
Overall, this translates into a 71% reduced risk when you increase your vitamin D level from 20 ng/mL to 60 ng/mL. The following graph, created by GrassrootsHealth,19 illustrates the dose response between vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk found in this study.
GrassrootsHealth’s 2018 analysis in PLOS ONE also analyzed this dose relationship.20 To do that, they looked at the percentage of breast cancer-free participants in various vitamin D groups, from deficient (below 20 ng/mL) to optimal (at or above 60 ng/mL), over time (four years).
As you might expect, the higher the blood level of vitamin D, the lower the incidence of breast cancer. The graph below illustrates this dose-related protection. At four years, the percentage of women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the 60 ng/mL group was 78% lower than among those with blood levels below 20 ng/mL.
How to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level
If you live in the northern hemisphere, which is currently heading toward winter, now is the time to check your vitamin D level and start taking action to raise it if you’re below 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L). As you can see from the studies above, a vitamin D level of 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L) or higher is recommended if you want to protect against cancer.
An easy and cost-effective way of measuring your vitamin D level is to order GrassrootsHealth’s vitamin D testing kit. Once you know your current vitamin D level, use the GrassrootsHealth vitamin D calculator21 to determine how much vitamin D you might need to reach your target level. To optimize vitamin D absorption and utilization, be sure to take your vitamin D with vitamin K2 and magnesium.
Lastly, remember to retest in three to four months to make sure you’ve reached your target level. If you have, then you know you’re taking the correct dosage. If you’re still low (or have reached a level above 80 ng/mL), you’ll need to adjust your dosage accordingly and retest again in another three to four months.
- 1 JAMA Network Open 2020;3(11):e2025850
- 2 The Sentinel November 22, 2020
- 3, 5 UPI November 18, 2020
- 4 Vital Study Findings
- 6 JASN 2010 Feb; 21(2): 261–271
- 7 Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 2017 Dec;24(6):389-394
- 8, 10 PLOS Medicine February 5, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
- 9 Live Science February 8, 2013
- 11, 12 BJC 2020; 123: 1705-1712
- 13 Bioscience Reports 2019 Nov 29; 39(11): BSR20190369
- 14, 20 PLOS ONE June 15, 2015 (PDF)
- 15 European Journal of Cancer 2005 May;41(8):1164-9
- 16 GrassrootsHealth, Breast Cancer Reduction and Vitamin D
- 17 Aging 2019 Dec 28;11(24):12708-12732
- 18, 19 GrassrootsHealth Blog, Lower Breast Cancer Risk with Vitamin
- 21 GrassrootsHealth Vitamin D Calculator
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked November 29, 2020
INTERVIEW WITH DR. SARAH ZIELSDORF AND LINDA ELSEGOOD:
Dr Mercola’s Video Interview
Download the Interview Transcript
- Low-dose naltrexone, an opiate antagonist, can benefit most autoimmune and chronic pain conditions
- LDN is also being used as an adjunct for cancer. Research by professor Angus George Dalgleish and Dr. Wei Lou showed LDN could bring cancer cells into remission using pulsed dosing
- When microdosed, LDN can help potentiate long-term users of opioids, allowing them to reduce their dependence and lower their required opioid dose
- Naltrexone only briefly blocks the opioid receptor. Its chief clinical benefit is in the rebound effect, which includes an upregulation of your immune system and subsequent reduction in inflammation
- Other conditions being treated with LDN include Lyme disease and its co-infections, fibromyalgia, SIBO, restless leg syndrome, depression, dermatological issues and even infertility
In this interview, we review some of the remarkable benefits of low-dose naltrexone (LDN), including the surprising benefits of microdosed LDN. The two experts featured in this interview are Linda Elsegood, a Briton who founded the LDN Research Trust1 in 2004, and Dr. Sarah Zielsdorf, who has a medical practice in the Chicago area in the U.S.
Elsegood, who was diagnosed with MS in 2000, has been involved in LDN research and public education for 16 years. LDN is a powerful, safe and effective treatment for many autoimmune diseases, yet few, including most health care professionals, know anything about it. Remarkably, LDN may even be helpful in the fight against COVID-19, as it acts to normalize your immune system.2
Elsegood recently published a book on LDN called “The LDN Book, Volume Two: The Latest Research on How Low Dose Naltrexone Could Revolutionize Treatment for PTSD, Pain, IBD, Lyme Disease, Dermatologic Conditions and More.” Each chapter is written by a medical professional with clinical knowledge of the drug’s use. Zielsdorf is one of the contributing authors. Elsegood also hosts a radio show called The LDN Radio Show.3
In the interview, she tells the story of how she discovered LDN and the dramatic benefits she has experienced from it. In summary, beneficial effects became apparent after about three weeks on the drug and, after 18 months, her condition had significantly improved.
We use LDN for nearly all autoimmune conditions, as an adjunct for cancer, and as a treatment for chronic pain. We also use ultra-low dose naltrexone to help potentiate pain relief for people who are on opioids and help them to be less dependent on opioid medications. ~ Dr. Sarah Zielsdorf
Zielsdorf — who has an undergraduate degree in microbiology and a master’s degree in public health microbiology and emerging infectious disease — also has a personal health story that brought her to LDN. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) in 2003. Ten years later, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid.
“I learned about functional nutrition and triggers for autoimmunity, and started to do all of the things I needed to do to optimize my biomarkers, remove systemic inflammation, and was able to return to my [medical] training. I had been told that I could never have children and surprisingly became pregnant and had a daughter in my second year of training.
After having her, I [had a flareup]. It was then, in 2014, that a doctor put me on LDN. It changed my life … Once I graduated from residency, I started treating patients with a variety of issues with LDN. I’ve treated thousands of patients with LDN.”
Naltrexone — A Rare Gem of a Drug
Naltrexone in low or even microdoses is one of the few pharmaceutical drugs I wholeheartedly endorse. Not only is it remarkably safe, it’s also a profound adjunctive therapy for a wide variety of conditions. As explained by Zielsdorf:
“Naltrexone is one of the few things that actually enables our own bodies, our own immune systems, to be able to function better and really restore function.
After World War II, they were looking for more opioid medications. By accident, scientists figured out how to block the opioid receptor. They did the exact opposite of what they were supposed to do, which is to find morphine analogs for soldiers.
[In] the 1960s, they were able to synthesize naloxone and naltrexone … FDA approved it in the 1980s for opioid addiction at a dose of 50 to 100 milligrams, and then in the 1990s for alcohol dependence.
But it was Dr. Bernard Bihari and Dr. Ian Zagon in the 1970s that had this amazing idea that if you took a very small dose of naltrexone, compounding it in a clean way [down] to a few milligrams, if would briefly block the opioid receptor in the central nervous system — very briefly kissing that receptor and then unblocking it.
This upregulates the body’s immune system by increasing the opioid receptor’s own production of beta-endorphin and met-enkephalins. Beta-endorphins help with mood, pain, sleep and the immune system, and met-enkephalins are also known as opioid-derived growth factor, and there are receptors for these on many different tissues, including the thyroid.
We now use it for nearly all autoimmune conditions, as an adjunct for cancer, and as a treatment for chronic pain. We also use ultra-low dose [microdosed] naltrexone, which I wrote about, to help potentiate pain relief for people who are on opioids and help them to be less dependent on opioid medications.
I’ve actually been able to get patients off of fentanyl patches and get them off chronic oxycodone or Norco use where their pain specialists said, ‘You will never ever get off these pain medications.’ It’s been an incredible journey and I’m a huge advocate of it.”
Naloxone Versus Naltrexone
Naloxone (Narcan) is what is carried on ambulances and used in ERs and trauma bays as an antidote to an opioid overdose. When given at a high enough dose, naloxone or Narcan acts as a complete opioid blocker, which is why it’s used acutely when someone has taken too high a dose of an opioid.
Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptor only briefly, and by a different mechanism. When used in low dosages as LDN, the chief benefit is actually in the rebound effect, after the opioid receptor has been briefly blocked.
Foundational Treatment Strategies for Autoimmune Diseases
With regard to autoimmune diseases, it’s important to realize there are other, equally important, foundational strategies that will benefit most patients with a dysfunctional immune system. These include optimizing your vitamin D level and omega-3 index, for example.
It’s also important to eliminate potential triggers. The reason why people have an autoimmune disease is because they’re exposed to something in the environment which serves as an antigen that their body recognizes as a foreign invader, and as a result attacks it. If you can avoid those antigens, you can often suppress and frequently eliminate symptoms without anything, because you’ve removed the stimulus.
One common autoimmune trigger is lectins, found in many otherwise healthy vegetables. Zielsdorf will typically place her autoimmune patients on a Mediterranean-style paleo diet or an oligoantigenic elimination diet to optimize detoxification, liver and kidney function, and the microbiome.
Others may be placed on a nose-to-tail carnivore diet. As noted by Zielsdorf, it’s “a way of offloading and simplifying what antigens the body is seeing.” Other helpful diets in this respect include the autoimmune paleo diet and the low-histamine or low FODMAP diet.
“I am a microbiologist and I do a ton of advanced testing, and then we start looking deeper at triggers,” she says. “I used to put everybody on LDN first, but now we know that certain patients will flair because their immune system is so suppressed due to co-infections.
We see it most with Lyme disease and with yeast overgrowth. If I suspect or I have tests confirming that a patient has one of these things, or their immune system is super suppressed … I’ll work on their microbiome before I start LDN …
I test everybody’s gut, and what I see universally is you get this hyper intense intestinal permeability in these cases … What’s so interesting is a leaky gut equals a leaky brain, and we overwhelm our immune system. I do see this. The first step is getting them off the most common triggers, and sometimes I’ll be testing for lectins too.
Universally, for all of my autoimmune patients, is that they can’t eat wheat. There are over 150 antigens in wheat that you can be sensitive to … It is also desiccated with Roundup, glyphosate, right before processing, so we get that extra toxicity. I test my patients for their environmental toxic load, and I see a lot of patients with glyphosate toxicity.
The wheat that we used to eat 10,000 years ago at the beginning of agriculture is not the wheat [we now eat]. It’s not even the same chromosome number as what our bodies ate in small amounts as hunter gatherers.”
Why You Should Avoid Monogastric Animal Meats
As mentioned by Zielsdorf, a nose-to-tail carnivore diet can be an excellent intervention in some cases, especially for those whose immune function is severely suppressed. However, you should avoid monogastric animals, meaning animals that have only one stomach.
Whereas cows have two, chickens and pigs have only one. The reason for this recommendation is because conventionally factory farmed chicken and pork will be very high in the omega-6 fat linoleic acid. This is because they are typically fed corn, which is high in this type of fat. And a high linolenic acid diet can metabolically devastate your health. So, a diet high in chicken and bacon is not doing your body any favors.
Animals with two stomachs are able to fully process omega-6-rich grains and other foods, as they are equipped with gut bacteria that can break it down into a healthier fat. Aside from cows and steer, this includes buffalo, beef and lamb.
What Can LDN Treat?
Aside from autoimmune diseases, LDN is also used in the treatment of the following conditions. Bear in mind this is not a complete list. Some of these conditions have been featured in various documentaries4 produced by the LDN Research Trust. You can find links to those documentaries in the references.
|Cancer5 — Research by professor Angus George Dalgleish and his colleague Dr. Wei Lou showed LDN could bring cancer cells into remission using pulse dosing.6 LDN also works synergistically with cannabidiol (CBD), and works well for cancer, autoimmunity and pain conditions|
|Opioid addiction, dependence and recovery7 — Using microdoses of 0.001 milligrams (1 microgram), long-term users of opioids who have developed a tolerance to the drug are able to, over time, lower their opioid dose and avoid withdrawal symptoms as the LDN makes the opioid more effective.
For opioid dependence, the typical starting dose is 1 microgram twice a day, which will allow them to lower their opioid dose by about 60%. When the opioid is taken for pain, the LDN must be taken four to six hours apart from the opioid in order to not displace the opioid’s effects
|Lyme disease and its coinfections8|
|Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)|
|Restless leg syndrome|
General Dosing Guidelines
Dosing will, of course, depend on the condition being treated, but there are some general guidelines that can be helpful. Downloadable guides can be found on the LDN Research Trust site, and are available in several languages. Keep in mind that LDN is a drug, not something you can buy over the counter, and you need to work with a knowledgeable physician who can prescribe it and monitor your health.
“With a general pain condition, we may use 1.5 to 3 or 4.5 mg. With Hashimoto’s, we start lower and slower because patients with Hashimoto’s may actually have to reduce their thyroid hormone medication if they’re on it because they get reduction of that inflammation and they can produce more of their own thyroid hormone. So, we usually start at 0.5 mg.
For patients with mood conditions … 0.5 to 1 mg. There was an important paper that came out showing LDN is an important agent for depression, for patients who fail those meds or as an adjunct to antidepressants. PTSD patients may have to go higher. There are all sorts of strategies and you just need to find a doctor who’s well-versed in that condition.”
The LDN Research Trust’s website is an excellent resource for all things LDN. It has a variety of resources to guide patients, prescribing doctors and pharmacists alike. It also has a page where you can find LDN-literate prescribers around the world.
Of course, to learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of “The LDN Book, Volume Two: The Latest Research on How Low Dose Naltrexone Could Revolutionize Treatment for PTSD, Pain, IBD, Lyme Disease, Dermatologic Conditions and More,” and/or “The LDN Book: How a Little-Known Generic Drug ― Low Dose Naltrexone ― Could Revolutionize Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases, Cancer, Autism, Depression and More,” which is the first of the two volumes.
Both books are also available on the LDN Research Trust website, along with videos featuring all of the doctors that contributed chapters to the books. You can also check out The LDN Radio Show.9 Last but not least, LDN Research Trust is a nonprofit that depends on public donations, so if you would like to contribute to the Trust’s LDN research and education efforts, please make a donation.
- 1 LDN Research Trust
- 2 Lowdosenaltrexone.org March 22, 2020
- 3, 9 The LDN Radio Show
- 4 LDN Research Trust LDN Documentaries
- 5 LDN Research Trust, The Game Changer, LDN & Cancer
- 6 Angus George Dalgleish, Dalgleish The Role of LDN in the Treatment of Cancer
- 7 Vimeo, The Pain, Opioid and Ultra/Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Documentary
- 8 Vimeo, Bullseye – Low dose naltrexone and Lyme disease