Monthly Archives: May 2020

Nasal Irrigation with a Neti Pot May Be the Magic Bullet Against Coronavirus-19

Amy Baxter, MD, holding a Buzzy, the physiologic pain blocker she invented

Amy Baxter, MD, is a pediatric emergency physician, pain management researcher, engineer, writer and mom as well as the founder and CEO of Pain Care Labs in Atlanta. Baxter is probably best known as the inventor of the Medical Design Excellence Award winning Buzzy® physiologic pain blocker. She’s a doctor known for creative solutions to medical challenges.

And now she’s got an idea for lessening the impact of Coronavirus-19 and the severity of COVID-19.

PROBABLE IMPACT OF NASAL IRRIGATION ON CORONAVIRUS-19

Source: Library of Congress

While Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province, and other parts of China have been hard hit by Coronavirus-19, nearby Thailand, Laos and Vietnam have had a remarkably low number of cases. Baxter’s take on this is that nasal irrigation (also called nasal wash), a personal hygiene habit  widely practiced in Thailand but not in China, helps explain the difference. 

Performing regular nasal irrigation with a solution of sea salt and warm water is an easy and effective way to clear nasal secretions; improve nasal congestion; decrease post-nasal drip; stop runny nose, sneezing and coughing; alleviate sinus pain and headaches; improve taste and smell and even improve sleep quality. It’s also an inexpensive natural remedy with a very low risk of side effects. (Piromchai, 2019)

 Nasal irrigation has long been considered a good way to remove viruses and bacteria from sinus cavities. Baxter points out that recent clinical trials demonstrate that nasal irrigation reduces the duration and symptoms for other viral illnesses like flu and the common cold. Baxter has multiple reasons for believing that this approach can also be effective with Coronavirus-19. She notes that “SARS-CoV2’s viral load is heaviest in sinuses/nasal cavity.”

Also, the known sex and age discrimination of COVID-19 supports her conclusion. “Children don’t develop full sinuses until teens; males have larger cavities than women, and the cavities are largest [in those] over 70 years,” Baxter says. At least so far, children have been the least affected by COVID-19 while the elderly and men are dying at faster rates.

Regarding the very low COVID-19 death rates in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Baxter says, “Yes, they wear masks, and yes, they bow and don’t shake hands, but the biggest difference between them and places like South Korea or Japan is that nasal irrigation is practiced by 80 percent of people.” Laos has had less than 20 reported cases, and Vietnam roughly 300. (Hall, 4/20/2020) & (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Last week, on May 15 2020, Thailand reported they had no new cases of COVID-19 and and no deaths from it. “Since the outbreak started, there have been 3,025 reported cases of the coronavirus in Thailand, leading to 56 deaths. These numbers are surprisingly low in a country with a population of 70 million inhabitants that is also a popular tourist destination. (Hall, 5/16/2020)

CORONAVIRUS-19: VIRAL LOAD vs INFECTIOUS DOSE

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient and imaged using a transmission electron micrograph. (Credit: NIAID)

Source: Discover Magazine

Viral load is a measurement of the amount of a virus in an organism, typically in the bloodstream. It’s usually stated as virus particles per milliliter.  A high viral load jump starts the virus’s effort to make its host sick.

Having a high viral load may increase the odds that the recipient will develop COVID-19 while also raising the risk of that person’s immune system’s becoming overloaded in its battle against the virus. An often cited example of this explanation is that someone who becomes infected indirectly by touching a door handle may develop a mild case of COVID-19 compared to a person who inhales a large load of the virus from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. (Boyd, 5/6/2020)

Some disagree but many in the medical community believe that the size of the initial viral load of Coronavirus-19 influences whether or not an individual develops COVID-19. Baxter points out that flushing the build up of viral particles from the sinuses once or twice a day “gives the immune system time to figure out what it needs while reducing the enemy.” (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Source: DailyMail.co.uk

Emerging research indicates that the relationship between viral load at exposure and being sickened by this coronavirus is probably more complex – and also different from that of other communicable viral respiratory illnesses like influenza, MERS and SARS.

Infectious dose refers to the number of viral particles needed to establish an infection. “We don’t know what this is for covid-19 yet, but given how rapidly the disease is spreading, it is likely to be relatively low – in the region of a few hundred or thousand particles, says Willem van Schaik at the University of Birmingham, UK.

“Viral load, on the other hand, relates to the number of viral particles being carried by an infected individual and shed into their environment. “The viral load is a measure of how bright the fire is burning in an individual, whereas the infectious dose is the spark that gets that fire going,” says Edward Parker at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“If you have a high viral load, you are more likely to infect other people, because you may be shedding more virus particles. However, in the case of covid-19, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a higher viral load will lead to more severe symptoms.” (Geddes, 3/27/2020)

“Depending on the virus, people need to be exposed to as little as 10 virus particles — for example, for influenza viruses — or as many as thousands for other human viruses to get infected.

“Scientists do not know how many virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 are needed to trigger infection. COVID-19 is clearly very contagious, but this may be because few particles are needed for infection (the infectious dose is low), or because infected people release a lot of virus in their environment.

“In the case of the original SARS or influenza, whether a person develops mild symptoms or pneumonia depends not only on how much virus is in their lungs, but also on their immune response and their overall health.” (Lakdawala & Gaglia, 4/18/2020)

Whether viral load or infectious dose turns out to be a deciding factor for becoming ill with COVID-19 and/or having a severe case of it, it’s clear that the state of your immune system and your overall health is of the utmost importance. When our sinuses are blocked with gunk, we can’t breathe well through our noses. And we all know from personal experience that being able to breathe freely is vital to our physical and mental health. Nasal irrigation washes out nasty viruses, bacteria and fungi from our sinuses and nose – and helps us breathe fully and easily.

NASAL IRRIGATION FOR COVID-19

Clinical trials have shown that practicing nasal irrigation reduces the symptoms and duration of viral illnesses like the common cold (a simpler coronavirus is one of 100 viruses causing a ‘cold’) and the flu. Its impact on Coronavirus-19 hasn’t been fully studied yet but Dr Baxter “believe[s] strongly that nasal irrigation is the key to reducing COVID-19 progression of symptoms and infectivity.” She points out that the viral load of SARS-CoV2’s is heaviest in the sinuses and the nasal cavity. (Hall, 5/16/2020).

Many in the medical community believe that the viral load of Coronavirus-19 influences whether or not an individual develops COVID-19. Baxter points out that flushing the build up of viral particles from the sinuses once or twice a day “gives the immune system time to figure out what it needs while reducing the enemy.” (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Nine new registered trials investigating the effects of nasal irrigation on Coronavirus-19 are currently underway: at Stanford University, the University of Kentucky, NYU Langone Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt University and elsewhere. (Hall, 5/16/2020)

Dr Baxter recommends that anyone who has been exposed to or is positive for COVID-19 do nasal irrigation with the following solution:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of povidone-iodine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (see note below)
  • Mixed with 8 ounces of lukewarm boiled tap water

Povidone-iodine is a broad spectrum antiseptic solution commonly used for skin disinfection before and after surgery. It kills a broad range of pathogenic microbes – bacteria (Gram-positive and -negative), viruses, fungi and protozoa. Povidone-Iodine is also known as iodopovidone. Some brand names are Betadine, Wokadine and Pyodine, available at stores like CVS and on Amazon.com.

My note: Use sea salt, not processed table salt in your nasal irrigator. Table salt is very harsh and will sting.

PRECAUTIONS WITH POVIDONE-IODINE

So I did a little research into povidone-iodine to see if I was willing to run it through my sinuses and found an article called Povidone-iodine: Safe Use of a Common Antiseptic posted by the National Capital Poison Center. Reading through the information there on how to use this antiseptic safely and the warnings about who should avoid using it, I decided it wouldn’t be safe for me. I have a thyroid condition and am generally hypersensitive to many substances (including a large number of pharmaceuticals) so will forego povidone-iodine and continue using sea salt and filtered water in my neti pot.

I recommend reading the National Capital Poison Center’s short and informative article to see if providone-iodine would be safe for you.

NETI POTS FOR NASAL IRRIGATION

Using a neti pot is an inexpensive and easy way to irrigate your sinuses and nose. They often look like little tea pots or genie lamps and come in a large variety of shapes and materials.

Neti pots are gravity-based containers designed for pouring a saline solution into one nostril and having it flow out of the other nostril. They were developed in ancient India as part of a set of purifying and cleansing ayurvedic yogic practices. References to neti pots appear in Indian writings from 3,000 BC – though they were likely invented centuries before that.

HOW TO USE A NETI POT

Here’s a video of how to use a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses to remove any nasty allergens, bacteria, viruses and molds that have taken up residence in there. Though the process may look scary or disgusting, you’ll find it easy and highly beneficial once you get the hang of it. I recommend doing it in the shower.

A few suggestions:

  • You can buy those more expensive packages of neti pot salt or get a big container of pure sea salt and use some of it. I like to use Pink Himalyan Sea Salt (fine) or La Baleine Sea Salt (fine). Do not use processed table salt. It’s harsh & will sting.
  • I recommend getting a ceramic rather than a plastic neti pot – much easier to keep it clean. The ceramic ones can be sterilized in the dishwasher. I’ve used the same white ceramic model for a few decades.
  • Using warm, filtered water in lieu of distilled water should be fine too.
  • If you use your neti pot in the shower, you don’t have to worry about dribbling the salt solution down your shirt and can also lean against the shower wall to get your head at the right angle so the solution doesn’t run down the back of your throat.

That’s the basic way to use a neti pot to get the gunk out of your sinuses and nose – clean hands, warm water and sea salt.

See NATURAL TREATMENT FOR SEASONAL POLLEN & MOLD ALLERGIES for more information on using a neti pot to clear seasonal pollens, mold and fungal biofilms out of your nasal sinuses. (Hardin, 5/26/2019)

Many thanks to Christian Lillis, Executive Director of the Peggy Lillis Foundation, for sending me the 5/16/2020 article on nasal irrigation for Coronavirus-19. The mission of the Peggy Lillis Foundation is to build a nationwide Clostridium difficile awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.

REFERENCES

Boyd, C. (5/6/2020). The AMOUNT of coronavirus you get infected with decides how severe the illness is, SAGE scientist warns. DailyMail.co.uk. See: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8291955/AMOUNT-coronavirus-infected-decides-severe-illness-SAGE-scientist-warns.html

Geddes, L. (3/27/2020). Does a high viral load or infectious dose make covid-19 worse?
See: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238819-does-a-high-viral-load-or-infectious-dose-make-covid-19-worse/#ixzz6N6fwfHOf

Hall, C. (4/20/2020). Nasal Irrigation Is the Key to Reducing COVID-19 Progression, Doctor Says: Amy Baxter, MD, Say6s Nasal Irrigation May Be the Best Way to Treat Positive Coronavirus Patients. See: https://bestlifeonline.com/nasal-irrigation-covid-19/

Hall, C. (5/16/2020). This One Habit May Be Why Thailand Has So Few COVID Cases, Doctor Says: This Personal Hygiene Habit May Help You Avoid the Coronavirus. See: https://bestlifeonline.com/thailand-coronavirus-hygiene/

Hardin, J.R. (5/26/2019). NATURAL TREATMENT FOR SEASONAL POLLEN & MOLD ALLERGIES. See: https://allergiesandyourgut.com/2019/05/26/natural-treatment-for-seasonal-pollen-mold-allergies/

Lakdawala, S. & Gaglia, M. (4/18/2020). What We Do and Do Not Know About COVID-19’s Infectious Dose and Viral Load: Two virologists share their thoughts about these often-used terms. DiscoverMagazine.com. See: https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/what-we-do-and-do-not-know-about-covid-19s-infectious-dose-and-viral-load

National Capitol Poison Center. (2019). Povidone-iodine: Safe Use of a Common Antiseptic. See: https://www.poison.org/articles/povidone-iodine-safe-use-of-a-common-antiseptic-193

Piromchai, P. et al. (2019). Effectiveness of nasal irrigation devices: a Thai multicentre survey. See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6542345/

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

A GUIDE FOR CHOOSING PROBIOTICS

Source: Probiotics NZ

This is for those of you seeking reliable information on how to choose probiotics that will help you achieve good health – acutely useful during this pandemic. It’s an article by Dr David Williams, a respected expert on nutritional supplements.

The term ‘probiotics wasn’t even in use when Dr Williams first began studying digestive health. “During his early travels, he experienced firsthand the digestive health benefits of lactic acid yeast and traditional fermented foods. Always eating and drinking what the locals ate and drank, yet rarely suffering from “tourista,” Dr. Williams became convinced that the fermented foods and drinks of the native cultures—along with the bottle of lactic acid yeast that he never left home without—helped protect and even promote his digestive health. As early as 1989, Dr. Williams devoted an entire issue of his Alternatives newsletter to the importance of bacterial balance, documenting the myriad health benefits of good bacteria in his seminal article ‘The Key to Solving a Thousand Problems’.” (Williams, 2019)

ABOUT DR DAVID WILLIAMS

“Dr. Williams grew up on a farm in a small town in the Texas panhandle, an experience that keenly developed his problem-solving abilities and instilled in him the importance of simple values such as honesty and helping your neighbor. After graduating from Southwest Texas State University, Dr. Williams began working as an adjuster for a health insurance company. He observed that accident victims who received chiropractic care experienced better long-term outcomes than those who received conventional medical treatments. This insight prompted Dr. Williams to earn his Doctor of Chiropractic degree and led him to establish what became the largest non-invasive medical facility in central Texas at the time. His highly individual and holistic approach to treatment attracted many people with difficult concerns. To help these patients, Dr. Williams began devoting more time to research. Later, he sold his practice to pursue research full time.” (Williams, 2019)

Source: Parsnips and Pastries

“Over the last couple of years there’s been a surge in popularity of probiotic supplements. This has created a lot of marketing hype, resulting in several misconceptions and myths. Because of these myths, people do not experience the full benefits of probiotics. This is the primary reason why many people give up and stop using them completely.” (Williams, 11/30/19)

Here’s Dr Williams’ article:

BEST PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT: 7 MYTHS, DEBUNKED

REFERENCES

Williams, D. (2019). Healthy Directions. See: https://www.healthydirections.com/dr-david-williams

Williams, D. (11/30/2019). Best Probiotic Supplement: 7 Myths, Debunked. See: https://www.healthydirections.com/best-probiotic-supplement-7-myths-debunked?key=350555&utm_campaign=PP-35&utm_source=loy-email-all&utm_medium=email_channel&utm_content=hd-350555-ETB-4-ETS-46-PP-35-O-1-S-14_williams-eletter-051820&utm_leadgen_overlay=false&pf=0&of=HD%20website&et_s=ETS-46&et_b=ETB-4&sg=S-14&sp_rid=anJoYXJkaW5AdXNhLm5ldAS2&sm_rid=anJoYXJkaW5AdXNhLm5ldAS2&sm_mid=42499111&spdate=May%2018,%202020&emaildid=5951936&spMailingID=42499111&spUserID=Mzg3MDYzOTM2MDMzS0&spJobID=1761369393&spReportId=MTc2MTM2OTM5MwS2

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Using Visualization To Find Your Center

Source: Marcie Lyons

It’s easy to feel uncentered now in this prolonged time of Coronavirus-19. Perhaps you weren’t so good at feeling balanced even before the virus.

When you feel tense, stressed, unbalanced, off center, out of touch with your real inner self, anxious, worried, overwhelmed or obsessive, you’re unbalanced and not living in your center, where you’re calm and at peace.

Visualization is the process of imagining a relaxing scenario, experience, sensation or image in your mind’s eye. Visualization lets you harness your brain’s positive response to images to help you manage your emotions and life effectively, in a state of ease.

Some other descriptions of the feeling of being centered:

  • Feeling grounded
  • Feeling spacious inside
  • Feeling at ease
  • Feeling balanced
  • Feeling free

As Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert, a professor at Harvard) famously advised:

“Remember, be here now.”

Being present means you are simply here, now in this moment, instead of being focused on what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. It’s about getting off autopilot and becoming aware of the automatic actions and reactions you are used to and finding a place of clarity and calm.

For several years there was a gallery in my neighborhood called The Time Is Always Now.

Visualizations can help you relax, step outside of the present moment and let go of immediate stress. This isn’t at all the same as being in denial. It’s a way to step back from whatever you experience as stressful to create some wiggle room just to be. Visualization provides a way to cope more easily with life’s challenges and become congruent with your true self.

“Emotions are powerful things. They can be like vortexes, pulling in all of our attention and causing behaviours we can’t seem to stop. The idea is that emotions are connected to our thoughts and collude to dictate our behaviours. A simple example would be the emotion of sadness, which can cause you to think negatively non stop, which can then cause you to constantly overeat or consume too much alcohol in order to escape those thoughts and feel better.” (Jacobson, 2015)

Some things visualizations can help you do:

  • Release stress and worry
  • Ease depression and anxiety
  • Reduce obsessive thinking
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Feel more capable
  • Change bad habits
  • Get motivated
  • Manage anger
  • Manage pain, both physical and emotional
  • Ease PTSD symptoms
  • Stop being so hard on yourself
  • Reduce performance anxiety
  • Let sex be more enjoyable
  • Improve relationships – both your relationship with yourself and with others

THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION

Source: Straightfromascientist.com

The Gut-Brain Axis in the body is what allows visualizations in our brain to change what happens in the rest of our body.

“During vertebrate embryonic development a single clump of fetal tissue divides to grow into the gut and the brain. One section becomes the central nervous system (the brain and spinal nerves) while another migrates lower in the body to create the enteric nervous system embedded in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.

“The two separate nervous systems connect via the vagus nerves running from the brain stem into the abdomen. This major trunk line is one of the longest nerves in the body. The gut and the brain are constantly signaling each other, back and forth, along the vagus nerve and also via chemicals released by the gut and transported to the brain. When one brain gets upset, the other becomes upset too. They work in conjunction with each other along the Gut-Brain Axis, each heavily influencing the other.” (Hardin, 2014)

Thoughts happen in the brain. Feelings happen in the gut.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF VISUALIZATION

We’ve all had the experience of thinking about something that frightens us and finding our heart beating faster – and perhaps feeling anxiety or panic. This is an example of how our thoughts, via our sympathetic nervous system, trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response.

Visualization is “simply the opposite of this – by thinking of something going well, we can elicit a positive response from our body and lower our stress.” (Jacobson, 2015)

In a study at the University of Miami, after 13 weeks of guided imagery, subjects showed a marked decrease in their cortisol levels, the stress hormone linked to anxiety, depression and fatigue.

“A study at the NC Centre for Stress Management found that using mental imagery with ill patients even resulted in an increase in white blood cells count in every single participant.” (Jacobson, 2015)

HERE ARE SOME VIDEOS DESCRIBING HOW TO DO VISUALIZATIONS

One of them says to sit cross legged on the floor. Not necessary. You can sit in a chair or any other comfortable place. You can also recline. – if you can stay awake.

REFERENCES

Hardin, J.R. (2013, updated 2014). Our Second Brain – The Gut Mind. See: https://allergiesandyourgut.com/our-second-brain-the-gut-mind/

Jacobson, S. (2015). Guided Visualisation in Therapy – The Benefits Might Surprise You. See: https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/guided-visualisation-therapy-can-make-feel-better.htmhttps://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/guided-visualisation-therapy-can-make-feel-better.htm

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Vitamin D for Coronavirus … and Much More

Results from a recent data review by English scientists link COVID-19 incidence and deaths across Europe to Vitamin D deficiency. A good blood serum level of Vitamin D is needed for healthy immune functioning – including fighting off Coronavirus-19. Unfortunately, most of us are severely Vitamin D deficient.

“When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.” So you might want to rethink using sunscreen. “…Some studies estimate that sunscreen of SPF 30 or more reduces vitamin D production in the body by about 95–98%.” (Raman, 2018)

There are also dietary sources of Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil, egg yolks, cheeses, butter, shiitake and button mushrooms, sunflower seeds and sprouts, and high quality supplements.

MOST OF US ARE VITAMIN D DEFICIENT

An adequate blood serum level Vitamin D is vitally important for healthy immune functioning. Unfortunately, most of us are severely Vitamin D deficient.

Unlike other vitamins the body needs, Vitamin D functions like a hormone, “and every single cell in your body has a receptor for it.” (Spritzler, 2018)

Having a sufficient Vitamin D blood level is essential for maintaining good health and preventing a wide range of autoimmune and neurological diseases: Type 1 and 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS, susceptibility to infection (including viral respiratory infections) among them. (Hardin, 8/28/2015)

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the US are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanics and 82.1% in African-Americans. (Spritzler, 2018)

This widespread Vitamin D deficiency is likely contributing to the incidence of Coronavirus-19 and the number of deaths from COVID-19.

COMMON RISK FACTORS FOR VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY

  • Having dark skin
  • Being elderly
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not eating enough fish or dairy
  • Living far from the equator where there is little sun year-round
  • Always using sunscreen when going out
  • Staying indoors

– Spritzler, 2018


SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY

  1. Often becoming ill, especially with colds or flu: A prime role for Vitamin D is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness. Vitamin D interacts directly with the cells responsible for fighting infection.
  2. Excessive fatigue or tiredness: Low Vitamin D blood levels can cause fatigue. “A large observational study looked at the relationship between vitamin D and fatigue in young women. The study found that women with blood levels lower than 20 ng/ml or 21–29 ng/ml were more likely to complain of fatigue than those with blood levels over 30 ng/ml.”
  3. Bone and back pain: A study found a relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and chronic back pain in 9,000 older women. Another controlled study found that people deficient in D were nearly twice as likely to have bone pain in their legs, joints or ribs compared to people with normal range blood levels.
  4. Depression: Controlled studies have shown that giving Vitamin D to people who are deficient helps improve depressed mood, including Seasonal Affective Depression.
  5. Impaired wound healing: Vitamin D plays a role in controlling inflammation and fighting infections, both important for proper wound healing. A test tube study suggested that Vitamin D increases the production of compounds crucial for forming new skin during the wound healing process. In an analysis of patients with diabetic foot infections, those with severe D deficiency were more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory markers.
  6. Bone loss: Low bone mineral density may be a sign of Vitamin D deficiency. Getting adequate D is important for preserving bone mass as you age.
  7. Hair loss: Hair loss is often attributed to stress but D deficiency may also be a cause. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss from the head and other parts of the body, is associated with rickets, a disease that causes soft bones in children due to Vitamin D deficiency.
  8. Muscle pain: Muscle pain can have many causes. There is evidence that D deficiency may be a potential cause of muscle pain in children and adults. In a study of 120 children with Vitamin D deficiency who had growing pains, a single dose of Vitamin D reduced pain scores an average of 57%.

– Spritzler, 2018

COVID-19 INFECTION & DEATHS LINKED TO VITAMIN D3 DEFICIENCY

A few weeks ago, three medical researchers in East Anglia, England pre-published their data review testing the hypothesis that Vitamin D3 plays a protective role for SARS-Cov2 infections. They note that “previous studies identified associations between higher levels of ACE2 and better coronavirus disease health outcomes. In the lung, ACE2 protects against acute lung injury…. Vitamin D3 … pronouncedly (creates) enhanced expression of ACE2.”

Source: VitaminDWiki

“The primary aims of this study are to assess if there is any association between the mean levels of vitamin D in various countries and the mortality caused by COVID–19. The secondary aim was to identify if there is any association between the mean vitamin D levels in various countries and the number of cases of COVID–19.”

To limit confounding biases (eg, latitude), they focused on 20 European countries hit by Coronavirus-19. The researchers searched the health literature for the mean levels of vitamin D among the citizens in each country. Then they compared those figures with the numbers of COVID-19 deaths in each country as of 20 March 2020.

The researchers defined severe Vitamin D deficiency as a serum blood level lower than 30 nmol/L. (30 nmol/L = 12 ng/mL – ie, a very serious deficiency. Charts I’ve seen show the deficiency cut off at somewhere between 30-50 ng/mL so 12 ng/mL is very serious.)

The data demonstrated very significant correlations between the mean Vitamin D levels and the number of cases of COVID–19 in each country – as well as between the mean Vitamin D levels and the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in each country. People with the lowest levels of Vitamin D in their blood were significantly more likely to die from COVID-19 than people with adequate levels.

The scientists note that “Vitamin D levels are severely low in the aging population especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19.”

Their conclusions: “We believe, that we can advise Vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.”

– Illie, Stefanescu & Smith, 4/202020

You can see a pre-print of the paper on Research Square.

This 4 March 2020 MedCram Lecture video by pulmonologist Roger D. Seheult, MD on Vitamin D3 for Coronavirus-19 prevention is for those of you who want more technical information

RECOMMENDED VITAMIN D INTAKE & BLOOD LEVELS HAVE BEEN TOO LOW

The major circulating form of Vitamin D is considered to be 25-hydroxyvitamin D, measured in ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). This blood test is currently considered the best indicator of the body’s Vitamin D supply. The reference range for the 25 Hydroxy D Test (also known as 25 (OH)D) is 25-80 ng/mL. (Nguyen 11/20/2019)

There’s Evidence These Vitamin D Blood Level Interpretations Are Too Low for Maintaining Good Health

Many scientists have long argued that setting 30 ng/mL as the dividing line between Vitamin D deficiency and adequacy (as in the commonly used chart above) has been dangerously incorrect. And now the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is apparently proving them correct.

This Chart Reflects the Vitamin D Blood Levels Needed for Good Health

Source: Angel Mobile Health Services

From an article on Vitamin D and Health by Dairy Nutrition:

“The evidence to date, largely from systematic reviews, indicates that higher levels of serum 25(OH)D may significantly reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and some cancers, such as breast and colon cancer. 

“Research also indicates that increased levels of 25(OH)D are associated with higher bone mineral content in older children and adolescents (6 to 18 years) and higher bone mineral content and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women and elderly men. 

In some studies, higher vitamin D levels are also associated with beneficial immunologic outcomes, such as reduction in risk of acute lower respiratory tract infections. In addition, vitamin D appears to reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis and is likely beneficial in its treatment.” (Dairy Nutrition, undated)

Source: Afro-American Newspapers

From a publication of the Mayo Clinic in 2017:

“The Institute of Medicine has placed the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for vitamin D at 600 international units (IU) per day for young adults and 800 IU per day for adults older than 70. Other experts suggest that adults’ vitamin D needs are much higher.” (Torborg, 4/25/2017)

Source: Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog

A recent recap by Dr Joseph Mercola on the importance of Vitamin D and the dangers of a deficiency. (This particular article is about Vitamin D and sleep):

  • Vitamin D deficiency has become epidemic in many parts of the world as we’ve been taught to avoid the sun. Lower vitamin D levels have produced two unexpected consequences: poor sleep and a dangerous change in the intestinal microbiome.
  • Vitamin D is needed to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps you get into the deeper, healing phases of sleep, and controls your normal paralysis during deep sleep
  • Certain B vitamins also play an important role in sleep. For example, B5 — pantothenic acid — makes coenzyme A, which you use to make acetylcholine.
  • If you’re healthy you have four types of gut bacteria living inside you. Those bacteria need your vitamin D to grow properly, and in return they make eight B vitamins that you need. Without enough vitamin D the healthy bacteria are replaced by others that don’t require vitamin D but are unable to make the B vitamins that you need to sleep normally.
  • Ideally, you need to normalize your gut microbiome so that your gut bacteria make all the B vitamins your body and brain need.
  • To normalize your gut microbiome, maintain a vitamin D level over 40 ng/mL and take B50 or B100 (all eight B’s at 100 mg each) for three months (Mercola, 3/1/2020).

Source: The Endocrine Society

Given the current Coronavirus-19 pandemic and also the very high incidence of other diseases influenced by a Vitamin D deficiency, it would be wise to get a 25-hydroxyvitamin to learn your actual blood serum level. If your score is below 50 ng/mL – or you have warning signs of a Vitamin D deficiency, you might want to take a high quality, bio-available Vitamin D3 supplement daily.

SUPPLEMENTAL VITAMIN D3 DOSAGE RECOMMENDATIONS

“Vitamin D3 ensures that calcium is absorbed easily and K2 (MK-7) activates the protein, osteocalcin, which integrates calcium into bone. Without D3 and K2, calcium cannot do its job effectively. Vitamin K2 (MK-7) activates matrix GLA protein (MGP) to bind excess calcium and promote arterial flow and flexibility.” (Better You, 2020)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes the absorption of calcium, regulates bone growth and is important for immune function. It exists in two main forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol – from plants) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol – from animals). The skin produces D3 when exposed to sunlight but it’s hard for those of us living farther from the equator to get adequate sun exposure – especially when we use sun screen and cover our skin with clothing.

Ask your doctor to do a 25-hydroxyvitamin test to learn your actual blood serum level. Based on the studies and recommendations above, if your score is below 50 ng/mL – or you have warning signs of a Vitamin D deficiency, you’d be wise to take a high quality, bio-available Vitamin D3 supplement daily for a few months then do a retest. If your repeat test level is 50 ng/mL or higher, you’re probably getting enough D3.

Dr. Joan Lappe and her colleagues looked prospectively at more than 400 postmenopausal women over a four-year period of time. Women in the study group were given 1100 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium daily. The control group did not receive this. Results: Women who took the vitamin D and calcium reduced their rate of cancer by 60%. The authors found that for every 10 ng/ml increase in a woman’s vitamin D blood level, the relative risk of cancer dropped by 35%.”

THE VITAMIN D3 SUPPLEMENT I TAKE

On the recommendation of my Functional Medicine health care providers, and consistent with research I’ve read, I’ve taken a softgel cap containing 5,000 iu of bioavailable Vitamin D3 (Metagenics) every day after breakfast for many years. I also take a capsule containing 150 mcg of K2 MK-7 (Health As It Ought To Be) at the same time. And I frequently eat fatty fish, eggs, butter and mushrooms so am also getting some D3 and D2 from my diet. Spending a lot of time inside an apartment in New York City, I’m pretty sure the amount of D3 I get from sunshine is negligible.

My Vitamin D,25-OH blood level in mid-March was 65 ng/mL. (Reference Range: 30-100 ng/mL) This made me and my doctor very happy. When a virus is going around, I sometimes feel my body fighting it off if I’m also feeling stressed but it hardly ever turns into a full blown case.

If you’re looking for a high quality, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free supplement that contains both 5,000 iu Vitamin D3, a balanced amount of K2 MK-7 and some calcium in a single capsule, there’s Dr Mercola’s Vitamin D3 & K2.

“Researchers from UC San Diego discovered that vitamin D levels of 48 ng/mL or higher were linked to a 67 percent reduction in cancer risk when compared to those whose levels were 20 ng/mL or less. Studies have shown that higher sun exposure throughout a women’s lifetime is linked to a 70 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer. In 2018 The British Medical Journal revealed that high vitamin D levels were associated with a reduction in cancer risk of 20 percent when it came to liver cancer. It is also known that ovarian cancer cases were more than three times more likely to have low 25[OH]D levels.” (Sircus, 2019)

For additional information on Vitamin D & how to choose a supplement, see:

ALZHEIMER’S AND VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY

WHOLE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS (BIO-AVAILABLE) VS OTC (SYNTHETIC VITAMINS)

“Mayo Clinic: Vitamin D toxicity is rare in people who take supplements, researchers report.” The evidence is clear that vitamin D toxicity is one of the rarest medical conditions and is typically due to intentional or inadvertent intake of extremely high doses,” writes Dr. Hollick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine.” (Sircus, 2019)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your Vitamin D serum level should be monitored with periodic blood tests to make sure it’s high enough to protect your health.

REFERENCES

Better You. (2020). Vitamin D and Vitamin K. See: https://betteryou.com/vitamin-d-vitamin-k

Dairy Nutrition (undated). Vitamin D and Health. See: https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/vitamin-d/vitamin-d-and-health

Nguyen, H.C.T. (11/20/2019). Vitamin D3 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. MedScape. See: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2088694-overview

Hardin, J.R. (1/25/2015). Whole Food Supplements (Bio-available) vs OTC (Synthetic) Vitamins. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/01/25/whole-food-supplements-bio-available-vs-otc-synthetic-vitamins/

Hardin, J.R. (11/30/2014). ALZHEIMER’S AND VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/11/30/alzheimers-gut-bacteria-music/

Hardin, J.R. (8/28/2015). Prediabetics Have Fewer Gut Bacteria. See: https://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/08/28/prediabetics-have-fewer-gut-bacteria/

HealthLine. (2020). Vitamin D2 vs. D3: What’s the Difference?. See: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d2-vs-d3

Illie, P.C., Stefanescu, S., & Smith, L. (4/20/2020). The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality. See: https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-21211/v1

McRae, M. (5/1/2020). COVID-19 Deaths Are Being Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency. Here’s What That Means. See: https://www.sciencealert.com/covid-deaths-are-being-linked-with-vitamin-d-deficiency-here-s-what-that-means

Mercola, J. (3/1/2020). The Importance of Vitamin D and B5 for Optimal Sleep. See: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/03/01/gominak-vitamin-d.aspx

Raman, R. (4/28/2018). How to Safely Get Vitamin D From Sunlight. HealthLine. See: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun

Sircus, M. (8/2/2019). Vitamin D Deficiency as a Cause of Diseases & Safe High Dose Vitamin D Treatments. See: https://drsircus.com/cancer/vitamin-d-deficiency-as-a-cause-of-diseases-safe-high-dose-vitamin-d-treatments/#_edn6

Spritzler, F. (7/23/2018). 8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency. HealthLine. See: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms

Torborg, L. (4/25/2017). Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Q and A: How much vitamin D do I need? See: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-how-much-vitamin-d-do-i-need/

© Copyright 2020. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.