The start of an influenza epidemic has made the headlines and it appears it will be worse then recent years. News reports indicate that at least 25% of people getting the flu had this year’s influenza vaccination prior to the outbreak. Complicating the issue is that many reports focus on “flu like illnesses and assume that this is the flu. The only way a definite diagnosis can be made is a special throat or nasal culture which tends to be expensive, and is usually reserved for those who are sick
enough to be hospitalized. A clinical diagnosis is suggested by high fevers over 101 degrees, severe musle aches, and sore throat. Many people use the term flu very loosely in describing gastroenteritis symptoms only – nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Influenza is a serious issue. There have been deaths confirmed by cultures in the past month.

On September 12, 2010, I posted #14, Prevention of Influenza With Vitamin D. There was a very well performed study published in the May, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This study is still on the web and free for anyone to read. Simply google the name of the Journal. The test was very rigorous, and used nose/throat cultures to confirm the diagnosis of influenza A. The dose of the vitamin D given for 4 months before the winter was only 1200 Units. The study was double lind so there is no way any bias of the researchers would have changed the results.

The full details of the study can be read by going to #14 on this health letter. But in summary, there was a 41.9% reduction in the incidence of the flu. An unexpected result was that there was an 83% reduction of asthma attacks in those children who had a history of asthma. This makes sense since asthma is clearly a disease caused by antibodies and vitamin D has clearly been shown in studies to reduce the production of abnormal antibodies that cause disease.

So whereas just about everyone is scared of the flu and the serious illness and even sometimes death it can cause, but are you scared enough to have your doctor obtain a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test (covered by most health insurance), and spend $2 a month for 5000 units a day of Vitamin D3 which most people need with an occasional exception?

The news of the flu epidemic has been very well publicized through international newspapers, but there has been no mention of this study from October, 2010. I wrote in the column October, 2010, “Unfortunately we CANNOT rely on the press to keep us informed of critically important medical studies.”