Mar
30
2022

Adolescents’ Lifestyles Are Linked to Faster Aging in Adulthood

A longitudinal study found that adolescents’ lifestyles are linked to faster aging in adulthood. The study started with a baseline examination in a group of adolescents around the age of 15. 30 years later doctors examined the same individuals again. The researchers found that smokers, obese people and people with untreated emotional problems were aging faster than controls who did not have these problems. CNN discussed this study as well. A fourth condition, asthma was also included in the study. Indeed, adolescents who suffered from asthma in their mid-teens were not more biologically aged at age 45 when compared to controls who never had asthma. The authors concluded that treated asthma did not prematurely age a person. However, lifestyle habits like smoking, excessive weight and untreated mental illness contributed to accelerated aging.

Does having a healthy lifestyle lower your risk of developing medical conditions and diseases?

It must be remembered that anti-aging medicine is watching out for new treatments that can prolong life. However, this is not just one “breakthrough”, but rather a number of factors that in combination lead to longevity.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol, the supplement from red grape skin can stimulate your mitochondria metabolism. Exercise more and regularly as this will also stimulate your mitochondria to multiply similar to the effects of PQQ, a supplement. I take 500 mg of resveratrol concentrate once daily.

Exercise regularly

The first thing to remember is that regular exercise will prevent about 50% of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart failure, arthritis). Consequently, this prolongs life: Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases.

Replacing missing hormones with bioidentical hormones

When you enter menopause or andropause replace missing hormones with bioidentical hormones. This will add 10–15 years of good life. This information comes from the anti-aging medicine circles and European studies of women on bioidentical hormone replacement. Here is a more conservative opinion from a US review: Counseling Postmenopausal Women about Bioidentical Hormones: Ten Discussion Points for Practicing Physicians.

Abandon sugar, starchy foods

Starchy foods (potatoes, pasta, rice, pastries and bread) and processed food accelerate aging. Avoid these foods for a healthier heart – Harvard Health. Many studies have confirmed that a Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory and prevents premature aging.

Are you deficient in human growth hormone?

Find out whether you are deficient in human growth hormone or not by taking an IGF-1 blood test. Dr. Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium said at various anti-aging conferences that HGH by itself prolongs life by about 15 to 20 years or more. I am deficient in HGH and I am injecting HGH myself regularly. My anti-aging physician orders my IGF-1 level three to four times per year to monitor the right dosage of HGH replacement. But it is crucial that the physician supervise the patient. This involves  giving the patient only minimal amounts of HGH, which keeps IGF-1 levels in the high normal range. This is also re-emphasized in this review: Growth Hormone and Aging: Updated Review. When you overdose HGH, you lose all of the beneficial effects that HGH replacement brings.

Fasting mimicking diet (FMD)

Fasting for Longevity: 9 Questions for Dr. Valter D. Longo. When you consume only 500 to 600 calories daily for 5 days out of every month you are stimulating your telomeres (the caps on your chromosomes) to grow a little bit longer. Longer telomeres translate into longer life expectancy. In addition, your stem cells anywhere in your body also undergo stimulation. Here is more information: fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Lifestyle factors

It is best not to smoke. Keep your body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Get enough sleep (7–8 hours every night). Use a form of relaxing exercise (yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, Tai-Chi). This will keep the stress hormone cortisol under control; if it is constantly high from ongoing stress, it leads to premature deaths. The Science of STRESS – SLMA

Take key vitamins and minerals

When you take key vitamins and minerals every day you can add another 5 to 10 years of disease-free life to your life expectancy. Ray Schilling’s answer to Is taking vitamin supplements helpful or quackery?

All of these factors taken together help you to not age prematurely. A healthy lifestyle elongates your telomeres, which prolongs your life without diseases. It also prevents heart attacks and strokes, which again prolongs your life. And a healthy lifestyle prevents Alzheimer’s disease, so you can turn old and not have to worry about memory loss. I cannot overemphasize how important a healthy lifestyle is!

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Conclusion 

As summarized above, a recent study going on for about 30 years showed that premature biological aging occurs in adolescents who smoked, were obese or had untreated mental illness. On the other hand, treated asthmatics did not show this biological aging effect. I summarized what factors contribute to slowing down aging. It is a combination of proper diet, regular exercise, hormone replacement as you age and taking some supplements. One key to slower aging is to be aware of how important a healthy lifestyle is for you.

The section about having a healthy lifestyle was published previously here: Ray Schilling’s answer to What are the most exciting breakthroughs in longevity research?

Feb
20
2022

Stimulating the Immune System Leads to Better Cancer Survival

Notably, conventional medicine has nothing to offer against advanced cancer, but stimulating the immune system leads to better cancer survival.

Dr. Hoffer’s survival experiment with incurable cancer patients

The following is a description of a 9-year follow-up of incurable cancer patients. They were given supplements known to stimulate the immune system and their survival rates were recorded. Ref. 1 describes the experiment by Dr. Hoffer, the father of orthomolecular medicine. It is important to realize that this is a branch of medicine that uses large doses of vitamins and minerals. This can rectify metabolic changes in various diseases. Dr. Hoffer treated 131 advanced cancer patients between 1976 and 1988 with a mixture of mega vitamins and minerals. There was a control group (not taking any supplements) and the experimental group.

Results regarding incurable cancer patients over 9 years

In fact, the results of this 9-year follow up study are depicted in the image below. The Y-axis represents the % of survival (at the zero point of time 100 % of each group were alive), the X-axis shows the time of survival in years. To clarify, the group of cancer patients taking meta vitamins is depicted with orange columns, the control group with blue columns. At 7 years of follow-up none of the controls survived. Explicitly, there was an 8-year survival advantage of the mega vitamin group versus the control group (control group 28% survival at year 1 of follow-up, mega vitamin group 34% survival at year 9 of follow-up).

List of supplements patients in the experimental group took daily

With this in mind, here is the detailed list of the supplements that Dr. Hoffer instructed his experimental group cancer patients to take daily.

Vitamin C, 10,000 to 40,000 mg orally daily; B3 vitamin (niacin or niacinamide) 300 to 3,000 mg; vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 200 to 300 mg; folic acid 1 to 30 mg; vitamin E succinate 400 to 1,200 IU; Coenzyme Q10 300 to 600 mg; selenium 200 to 1,000 micrograms daily; zinc 25 to 100 mg; calcium and magnesium supplement (2:1 ratio); mixed carotenoids as carrot juice; multivitamins and minerals.

Ref. 1 (page 347) explains that in this case the Mayo Clinic did a study where they “duplicated” Dr. Hoffer’s study by using only high doses of vitamin C. It is important to realize that they failed to show any cancer fighting effect. However, they neglected to include all of the other cancer fighting supplements listed above. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that stimulates the immune system partially, but does not fight cancer by itself.

Strengthen your immune system by taking 14 supplements

In the following I like to share what I found when I investigated what supplements are necessary for optimal immune responses. The Linus Pauling Institute wrote a detailed review of the literature on the topic regarding “Immunity in depth”. It is published by the Oregon State University.

Essentially, there were 14 supplements that are listed below that were critical for the immune system to fully respond.

In the following I listed the 14 supplements, but, if they were present in Dr. Hoffer’s clinical cancer trial, I inserted them right after each item. 8 out of 14 supplements overlapped between Dr. Hoffer’s supplements and the supplements necessary to stimulate the immune system. There is a total overlap of 57%.

  • Vitamin A: mixed carotenoids as carrot juice
  • Vitamin B6: vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 200 to 300 mg
  • B12 vitamin
  • Folic acid: folic acid 1 to 30 mg
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C, 10,000 to 40,000 mg
  • D3 vitamin: Ray Schilling’s answer to Can vitamin D lower your risk of CoVID-19?
  • E vitamin: vitamin E succinate 400 to 1,200 IU
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Selenium: selenium 200 to 1,000 micrograms daily
  • Magnesium: calcium and magnesium supplement (2:1 ratio)
  • Zinc: zinc 25 to 100 mg
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Probiotics

Dr. Hoffer’s additional vitamins and minerals were: multivitamins and minerals; Coenzyme Q10 300 to 600 mg; and vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide) 300 to 3,000 mg. The 5 items that were missing in Dr. Hoffer’s clinical trial were vitamin B12, vitamin D3, iron, copper and probiotics.

Discussion

During the Covid epidemic the importance of the immune system for survival became very clear. One of the current mysteries regarding the immune system is why some people develop only very mild symptoms with Covid, while others get deadly sick. The other question has been around much longer: when it comes to cancer survival, why are there long-term survivors with some advanced cancers, but others perish. I believe that the key is how well the immune system is functioning. Dr. Hoffer’s end stage cancer survival trial achieved a 34% survival of cancer patients at year 9 of the clinical trial. At that time 100% of the control group were dead. Indeed, this is a remarkable finding.

Supplementation with vitamins and minerals prolonged cancer survival

The only difference was the supplementation with 57% of the Oregon University list of supplements necessary to stimulate the immune system. One of the more important supplements, namely vitamin D3 was not even included and yet there was a 34% survival in the experimental group after 9 years. Conventional medicine concentrates on surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy as the major therapeutic tools to fight cancer, but there is rarely if at all the mention of supplements. Ordinarily end stage cancer patients live on average 3 to 6 months.

Mayo Clinic’s attempt to jeopardize Dr. Hoffer’s cancer survival findings

When the Mayo Clinic got wind of Dr. Hoffer’s clinical trial they quickly attempted to “duplicate” the findings, but they left everything out except mega doses of vitamin C. Then they proclaimed that Dr. Hoffer’s data were flawed. In reality they failed to duplicate the findings, because they were poor copycats. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, but it won’t be of help to cancer patients on its own. As the Oregon State University publication showed, there are 14 supplement that are necessary to work in symbiosis to stimulate to immune system to fight cancer.

It is significant that there was a 57% congruence between Dr. Hoffer’s list and the Oregon State University list of supplements to stimulate the immune system. Future cancer clinicians should revisit Dr. Hoffer’s clinical findings and finetune them to increase the long-term cancer survival times. For one, the supplement list should include vitamin D3, probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids.

Stimulating the Immune System Leads to Better Cancer Survival

Stimulating the Immune System Leads to Better Cancer Survival. (Image source). 

Conclusion

Dr. Hoffer did a clinical trial that lasted 9 years between 1976 and 1988. Some patients were recruited earlier than others, but all were observed for a total of 9 years. He treated end-stage cancer patients with vitamin and mineral supplements. A control group that did not take any supplements was included in the trial. After 9 years the experimental mega vitamin group had a survival of 34%. None of the controls that did not take any supplements were still alive after 7 years. The literature by the Oregon University showed that 14 supplements are necessary to support the immune system. Dr. Hoffer’s clinical trial used 57% of these supplements. I am postulating that the good results of the mega vitamin group with respect to cancer survival likely comes from a strengthening of the immune system with the supplements.

The future of cancer treatments

Cancer treatments are entering a new phase where with the help of multiple treatment modalities combined (photodynamic therapy or PDT, immunostimulation, oxygen therapy and low-dose laser activated chemotherapy) it is now possible to cure many cancers that were untreatable in the past. The tunnel vision approach of conventional oncology with only a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy is obsolete for cases where cancer has metastasized. At this point the methods described here are promising, but have to be still considered experimental until larger clinical trials confirm Dr. Hoffer’s findings.

Reference

Ref. 1: Andrew W. Saul, PhD: “The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic disease”, Basic Health Publications Inc., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 2014.

Dr. Hoffer’s cancer survivor experiment (part of the above) was previously published here.

Jan
22
2022

Booster Vaccinations Against Covid-19 Variants are Very Effective

This article will inform you that booster vaccinations against Covid-19 variants are very effective. Studies in patients from Israel who received a third vaccination (booster shot) showed much less omicron infections. Researchers compared the number of omicron infections in patients with only two shots and another group with three vaccinations (regular vaccination+booster shot). In patients who had booster shots infection rates were 10-fold lower.

Antibody titers matter

What seems to be happening is that antibody titers against Covid-19 rise after each vaccination providing more and more protection against the virus. Patients in this study had 90% less Covid-19 infections after a booster (=3 shots with the Pfizer vaccine) when compared to a double vaccinated group. Researchers compared nursing home residents who were previously sick with Covid-19 versus those who were not. They did PCR tests in April or June of 2020 to identify that there was a past history of Covid-19 infection with a subsequent recovery. Within 3 weeks after one dosage of an anti Covid-19 vaccine their antibody tests rose to above 40,000 arbitrary units (AU) per milliliter. The threshold was 50 AU to be positive.

The Israeli experience

An Israeli study was published on Nov. 5, 2021. Researcher determined the antibody titers in blood samples after anti-Covid-19 vaccinations. They investigated the antibody titers after two vaccinations and compared them to antibody titers after three vaccinations. The latter vaccination is often referred to as a booster shot. 97 study participants had blood tests taken after two vaccinations with an average antibody titer of 440 AU/mL. Any value above 50 was considered to be seropositive. However, 10 to 19 days following the booster shot the average antibody titer rose to 25,468 AU/mL, which is an enormous increase.

Older age patients and kidney transplant patients responding to booster shots

After two vaccinations there were lower antibody titers in older patients aged 67-74 compared to patients age 18-55. But after the booster shot this age difference was no longer present. On the sideline the researcher also followed a group of kidney transplant patients. These would be considered to be patients with a chronic disease. Initially, following the standard two vaccinations these patients were negative for an antibody response. But after the third vaccination (booster shot) 49% of the kidney transplant patients showed a positive antibody test.

Antibody titers in patients with past natural Covid-19 infection

Researchers also investigated the antibody response of patients against the spike protein of Covid-19. As this publication shows after a natural Covid-19 infection plus one vaccination of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine the antibody titer was 20,120 arbitrary units per milliliter. In contrast, the other group consisted of two vaccinations of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine. They had antibody titers of 22,639 arbitrary units per milliliter. This was not significantly different from the first group. It also did not matter whether in the first group the prior natural Covid-19 infection was 1, 2, 3 or more months before the first vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine.

Discussion

New information emerged since the beginning of the Covd-19 pandemic. There was confusion about how often people would need a vaccination before they would be immune against Covid-19. After one vaccination with the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine the protection rate against Covid-19 is around 50%. After two vaccinations the protection rate is around 95%. Experience with the booster vaccination teaches us that the protection rate is almost 100%. There was no difference between the antibody response of the group with the age of 18-55 and the group with the age of 67-74 after the third shot (booster shot).

But there is a proviso: the immune system must be capable of full activation to produce enough antibodies by the B cells. B cells are the lymphocytes that traveled through  the bone marrow after which they started producing antibodies against viruses. As the results with the kidney transplant patients showed, only 49% of them were able to produce positive antibody titers. The reason for this is that kidney transplant patients must take immune system suppressing drugs to avoid a rejection of the kidney transplant.

Other reason for poor antibody response

Other patients with chronic diseases (diabetics, autoimmune disease patients etc.) and patients older than 60 can also have a weaker immune system. Part of this can be when one or more of the 14 supplements is missing that are necessary for a full immune response. It is important before the Covid-19 vaccinations to take the 14 necessary supplements to get a good antibody response.

Booster Vaccinations Against Covid-19 Variants are Very Effective

Booster Vaccinations Against Covid-19 Variants are Very Effective

Conclusion

Several studies showed that the antibody response after the anti-Covid-19 vaccine increases significantly. The measurements revealed that after two injections the antibody titer was 440 AU/mL. After the third (booster) injection the antibody titer increased significantly to 25,468 AU/mL. This explains why some people after one or two vaccinations still may be able to come down with Covid-19, but after the additional booster injection (3rd vaccination) the immune response in terms of antibody production is 58-fold higher than after the second vaccination. This gives the immune system a full response. Some patients with chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases etc.) will have certain immune deficiencies. This explains a higher infection rate among these people as well as a higher mortality rate. We all can take the booster vaccine against Covid-19. In addition, we can take the 14 immune supplements to stimulate our immune system.

Dec
25
2021

Drugs that May be Useful in the Treatment of Covid-19

This article deals with drugs that may be useful in the treatment of Covid-19. There are several drugs that may be useful in the treatment of Covid-19. Lately an antidepressant like Luvox has been in the limelight. But antiviral drugs like ritonavir from Pfizer and remdesivir from Gilead Sciences also reduced the number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19. Finally, Merck introduced molnupiravir, an antiviral drug against Covid-19. The health authorities in Great Britain recently approved this drug for use in Covid-19 patients in Great Britain. Apart from drugs, vitamin D3 is still an important factor in preventing and treating Covid-19 as I will mention below.

Luvox for better survival from Covid-19

The Lancet published a study on January 2022 about the effect of Luvox on patients with Covid-19 symptoms. 741 patients received the antidepressant Luvox, 756 received placebo pills. In the Luvox group patients received 100 mg of Luvox twice per day for 10 days. From the Luvox treated patients only 11% had to go to tertiary care for treatment. In contrast, from the placebo group 16% had to go to tertiary care. There were 17 deaths in the Luvox group and 25 deaths in the placebo group. The Luvox group definitely showed a positive effect, although the results were not outstanding. In the following I am discussing other drugs that may be useful in the treatment of Covid-19.

Antiviral agent Remdesivir Improving survival from Covid-19

Here is a run-down of the survival statistics with remdesivir. This drug is manufactured by Gilead Sciences in cooperation with Pfizer. 541 patients received a loading dose of 200 mg on day 1. Subsequently they received 100 mg daily for another 9 days. 521 received placebo pills. The median recovery time in patients with remdesivir was 10 days. Those on placebo pills recovered only after 15 days. The mortality rates were 6.7% with remdesivir and 11.9% for the placebo group on day 15. There was a mortality of 11.4% with remdesivir and mortality of 15.2% with placebo pills on day 29. Although the effect between the remdesivir group and the placebo group was significant, the effect would not be enough to stop transmission of the virus on a population basis. Health Canada made the decision to use remdesivir in severe COVID-19 disease cases.

Merck introduced molnupiravir, another antiviral drug against Covid-19

Molnupiravir was approved in the UK as an antiviral drug for early and moderately severe cases of Covid-19. It is difficult to get data on the Merck’s molnupiravir drug. But this publication states that there is a 50% reduction of mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 cases with molnupiravir. Professor Peter Horby from the University of Oxford pointed out “the proportional reduction in the risk of hospitalisation or death is impressive. But it is important to remember that the absolute risks were 14% reduced to 7%, so quite a lot of people need to be treated to prevent one hospitalisation or death.” Others pointed out that the side-effects are very similar between placebo pills and molnupiravir pills. Overall molnupiravir appears to be a useful addition in the treatment of Covid-19.

Higher doses of vitamin D3 effective in treating and preventing Covid-19

Higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of influenza and of Covid-19 coronavirus. Researchers outlined 3 mechanisms of how vitamin D works:

  • Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate.“
  • Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the bloodstream within 1 to 2 days.”
  • And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” It is people who get the viral pneumonia that are at a high risk of death. By bringing the blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.
Drugs that May be Useful in the Treatment of Covid-19

Drugs that May be Useful in the Treatment of Covid-19

Conclusion

Beside distancing, the wearing of masks and frequent hand washing other methods are emerging to fight the virus that causes Covid-19. Vaccinations are very effective, although they are less effective in patients with a weakened immune system. But there are also drugs that may be useful in the treatment of Covid-19. Newer studies have shown that the antidepressant Luvox has a mild effect on helping Covid-19 patients. Last year remdesivir came into the market. And this year Merck added molnupiravir, another antiviral pill. We should not forget that vitamin D3 is an effective antiviral vitamin. But it is only effective, provided the patient takes enough vitamin D3. The blood level must reach the high normal level of 50-80 ng/mL vitamin D in the blood. Up to now vaccinations and booster shots are the most effective way to prevent Covid-19 infection. Vitamin D3 and molnupiravir are also very effective.

Part of the above was previously published here.

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Oct
03
2020

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

A new study from Mt. Sinai Hospital showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In general, during wound healing there can be aggressive cell transformations.  This can cause scarring, retinal detachment and finally loss of vision and even blindness. Notably, the following pieces of evidence support the notion that vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) helps to make eye diseases better.

Lab experiments made in Petri dishes

Specifically, researchers performed experiments in Petri dishes with human adult cells. After adding nicotinamide, they found the following.

  • There were no harmful cell transformations
  • Membrane formation in conjunction with scar formation was reversed
  • There is a slow-down regarding the development of eye diseases that lead to loss of vision and blindness

Vitamin B3 was first detected as a cure to Pellagra

Pellagra, the vitamin B3 deficiency was first described by the Spanish physician, Don Gaspar Casal in 1763. Typically, pellagra presents with dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. If left untreated it will lead to death. The skin showed inflammation, particularly in areas where there was exposure to the sun or to friction. Affected skin may be darker. Pellagra occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Experiments with vitamin B3 on mice curing eye disease

In a mouse model researcher showed that vitamin B3 could largely prevent the development of glaucoma in aging mice. According to these researchers 93% of the mice with the higher dose of vitamin B3 did not develop glaucoma. Vitamin B3 (the precursor of nicotinamide) is important for the production of NAD+ and the phosphorylated form NADP, which are cofactors in the energy producing metabolism of mitochondria.  

Experiments on rabbits showing a cure with nicotinamide

In a 1985 publication rabbits were subjected to a vitamin B3 inhibitor, namely 6-aminonicotinamide. This is an antimetabolite of nicotinamide. It was given by intraabdominal injection. The rabbits developed diarrhea, ascending paresis/paralysis and death. They also developed vascular lesions in the eyes, particularly the iris with an acute inflammation of the iris, which physicians call iritis. The ocular lesions could be prevented by administering nicotinamide. The researchers concluded that vitamin B3 deficiency was responsible for the eye lesions.

Clinical trials show a response of glaucoma to vitamin B3

In a clinical trial physicians compared 34 primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients with a control group of 30 age- and sex-matched controls. The researchers measured plasma nicotinamide concentration in both groups. The POAG patients had on average 33% lower nicotinamide plasma levels than the control group. They concluded that glaucoma seems to be associated with lower plasma nicotinamide levels. The research team suggested that these findings need to be confirmed in a larger series of glaucoma patients. They also suggested that vitamin B3 therapy could become one of the treatment modalities.

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

Conclusion

We know vitamin B3 deficiency mainly as pellagra. It occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. But newer experiments in vitro, in mice and in rabbits showed that vitamin B3 deficiency can also cause eye disease. Other studies showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In addition, a clinical trial in humans showed that glaucoma can develop as a result of a 33% lack of plasma nicotinamide (vitamin B3) level. Regular supplementation in those who are prone to vitamin B3 deficiency may be curative for eye disease.

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Jul
25
2020

The Immune System Changes With Age

When we are young, we do not think about our immune system, but the immune system changes with age. When we are older than age 60, we notice that we may be taking longer to recover from a flu.

How does the immune system work?

There are two parts to the immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system works to protect us from bacteria, viruses, toxins and fungi from the time we are born. The adaptive immune system uses B lymphocytes from the bone marrow to produce antibodies against viruses. This provides often lifelong immunity against this specific virus, but takes 3 to 5 days to kick in. Vaccinations can also trigger antibody production to protect us from viruses in the future. Both the adaptive and the innate immune system work together closely.

What are the ingredients for a fully functioning immune system?

The immune system consists of various immune organs that are distributed throughout the body. The bone marrow produces lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, eosinophils and basophils. The adenoids in the back of the nasal passages and the tonsils in the back of the throat contain a lot of lymphocytes that are ready to protect us from colds and flus. We have lymph nodes throughout the body and they are connected with lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid that travels in the lymphatic vessels.

Other sites of lymphocyte production

The small intestine contains the Peyer’s patches, a collection of lymphocytes that protect our gut from invading bacteria or viruses. The spleen is located in the left abdominal cavity under the diaphragm. It removes old red blood cells and provides lymphocytes for the immune system. The thymus gland is located between the breast bone and the trachea. It changes bone marrow derived lymphocytes (B cells) into T lymphocytes that can process antigens from viruses and pass them on to the adaptive immune system for a full antibody response.

Cellular interactions between various players of the immune system

Back in the 1970’s it was already known that there were bone marrow derived B lymphocytes and thymus processed T lymphocytes. We knew then that B cells were involved in antibody production (adaptive immunity). T lymphocytes were thought to turn into killer T lymphocytes to kill cancer cells. But some T cells were T helper cells to process antigen and present it to B lymphocytes for antibody production.

More research since then refined what we know about the cells of the immune system.

Natural killer cells (NK cells)

Natural killer cells (NK cells) are part of the innate immune system. They attack cancer cells and cells that are infected by viruses. It takes about 3 days for their full action to develop. NK cells utilize the cell surface histocompatibility complex to decide whether to destroy a cell or not. T cell lymphocytes do not have the ability to do that. In the Covid-19 coronavirus situation NK cells play an important role to combat the disease right away.

Monocytes

They are large white blood cells that can differentiate further into macrophages and dendritic cells. Monocytes are part of the innate immunity, but they have an antigen presenting capability, which makes them also part of the adaptive immunity.

Memory T cells

The immune system learns to adapt to viruses and bacteria that we have come in contact with. The reason for the memory of the immune cells are the memory T cells. They replicate like stem cells, which keeps a clone of T lymphocytes, T helper cells and cytotoxic T killer cells in the background. They circulate through the body including the lymph glands and the spleen.

Immunosenescence as we age

There are several factors that come together, which age our immune system. The term for this is “immunosenescence“. There are genetic differences and differences due to the sex hormones. Estrogens increase the response of the immune system. In contrast, progesterone and androgens (including testosterone) decrease the immune response. This may be the reason why women tend to live longer than men.

As we age there are more and more memory T cells (both cytotoxic T cells and T helper cells). This weakens the formation of the natural killer cells (NK cells) of the innate immune system. Even the initiation of the adaptive immune system can be slower when we age and also the response to the flu vaccine. In addition, this can pave the way to autoimmune diseases.

The immune system changes with age: Evidence of immunosenescence

The following 3 factors show whether a person has immunosenescence:

  • The immune system has difficulties to respond to new viruses/bacteria or to vaccines
  • Accumulation of memory T cells crowding out cells of the rest of the immune system
  • Low-grade inflammation that is chronic and persists (“inflamm-aging”)

The process of immunosenescence starts with the involution of the thymus gland around the time of puberty. At that time the sex hormone secretion is highest. At the same time a growth factor from the bone marrow and the thymus gland decreases. It has the name interleukin-7 (IL-7). The end result is a slow decrease of the innate immune system with age and a more substantial weakening of the adaptive immune system due to a lack of naïve T and B cells. 

Chronic viruses can weaken the immune system further

The varicella herpes zoster virus causes chickenpox. In some people the chickenpox virus can persist, but the immune system actively keeps it controlled. In the 60’s or 70’s when the immune system is weakened from aging, there can be a flare-up as shingles, a localized form of the chickenpox virus.

Another virus, the human cytomegalovirus can cause a chronic infection that often persists lifelong. In this case the immune system is chronically weakened because of a massive accumulation of T memory cells, which keeps the human cytomegalovirus infection at bay.

What we need when the immune system changes with age 

Vitamin A

Both the innate and adaptive immunity depend on vitamin A and its metabolites. The skin cells and mucosal cells function as a barrier, which is important for the innate immunity. The skin/mucosal lining of the eye, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts help the innate immunity to keep viruses and bacteria out of the body. Vitamin A is important to support macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells. In addition, vitamin A supports the adaptive immune system, namely T and B lymphocytes, so that the body can produce specific antibodies against viruses.

I do not take vitamin A supplements as I eat diversified foods like spinach, vegetables, poultry, Brussels sprout, fish and dairy products that contain vitamin A and carotenoids.

Vitamin C

This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. It can neutralize reactive oxygen species, which are produced when the immune cells fight viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes are all supported by vitamin C. Vitamin C and E co-operate in their antioxidant functions. Vitamin C is essential for a strong antibody response with bacterial or viral infections. I take 1000 mg of vitamin C once daily.

Vitamin D

The immune system is very dependent on vitamin D as the immune cells all contain vitamin D receptors. People who have less than 10 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood are vitamin D deficient. They have much higher death rates when they get infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Vitamin D regulates the expression of target genes. At the center is the vitamin D receptor, which is a nuclear transcription factor. Together with the retinoic X receptor (from vitamin A) the vitamin D receptor binds small sequences of DNA. They have the name “vitamin D response elements” and are capable of initiating a cascade of molecular interactions. The result is a modulation of specific genes. Researchers identified thousands of vitamin D response elements that regulate between 100 and 1250 genes.

You need enough vitamin D for your immune system

When enough vitamin D is present in the blood (more than 30 ng/mL) the immune system releases the peptides cathelicidins and defensins, which effectively destroy bacteria and viruses.

Vitamin D has mainly an inhibitory function regarding adaptive immunity. It inhibits antibody production from B cells and also dampens the effect of T cells. Researchers reported that vitamin D3 is useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

I am a slow absorber of vitamin D3 as repeat blood vitamin D levels showed. I need 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to get a blood level of 50-80 ng/mL (=125-200 nmol/L). This is the higher range of normal. Everybody is different. Ask your physician to check your blood level of vitamin D. Toxic vitamin D blood levels are only starting above 150 ng/mL (= 375 nmol/L).

Vitamin E

This is a vitamin that is fat soluble and helps the body to maintain its cell membranes. But researchers found that vitamin E also stimulates the T cell-mediated immune response. This is particularly important for the aging person to prevent respiratory tract infections. I take 125 mg of Annatto tocotrienols per day (this is the most potent form of vitamin E).

Vitamin B6

This vitamin is important for antibody production by B cells. Vitamin B6 regulates the metabolism of amino acids, which in turn form proteins. Antibodies and cytokines require vitamin B6. The T helper immune cells that initiate an adaptive immune response depend on vitamin B6 as well. I take a multi B complex vitamin (Mega B 50) twice per day, so I supplement with a total of 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily.

Folate

Folic acid is a coenzyme for the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Studies in humans and animals have shown that folate deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infections. People with folate deficiency develop a megaloblastic anemia with immune weakness that leads to chronic infections. With my B complex supplement I get 2 mg of folic acid daily.

Vitamin B12

Methylation pathways depend on vitamin B12 as a coenzyme. Vitamin B12 is also involved as a coenzyme in the production of energy from fats and proteins. In addition, hemoglobin synthesis depends on vitamin B12. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency develop pernicious anemia. These patients also have a weak immune system due to natural killer cell activity suppression and because circulating lymphocyte numbers are significantly decreased.

Treatment with cyanocobalamin reverses the immune weakness rapidly and treats pernicious anemia at the same time. I take 50 micrograms twice per day as part of the Mega-B50 multivitamin tablet. But I also inject 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 every 6 months subcutaneously to be sure it is absorbed into the body. In older age the intrinsic factor from the stomach lining, which is required for absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine, can be missing, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency despite swallowing supplements.

Minerals required for a good immune response

Researchers identified five minerals that are essential for a strong immune system. They are zinc, iron, selenium, copper and magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important for a normal function of the innate and adaptive immune system. As zinc cannot be stored in the body, taking regular zinc supplements (30 to 50 mg daily) is important. I take 50 mg of amino acid chelated zinc daily.

Iron

Iron is important for cell oxygen transport and storage, DNA synthesis and for mounting an effective immune response. In particular it is the T cell differentiation and proliferation where iron is needed. Iron deficient people get a lot of infections because the immune system is paralyzed. I eat one spinach salad or steamed spinach daily, which gives me enough iron supply per day.

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that is important for a normal immune response and for cancer prevention. When selenium is missing, both the adaptive and innate immune system are suffering. In this case viruses are more virulent. With selenium supplementation cell-mediated immunity is improved and the immune response to viruses is more potent. I take 200 micrograms of selenium per day.

Copper

Deficiency in copper results in a very low neutrophil blood count and causes susceptibility to infections. Copper is a trace mineral that participates in several enzymatic reactions. It is important for the innate immune response to bacterial infections. A well-balanced Mediterranean diet contains enough copper, which is why I do not supplement with extra copper.

Magnesium

An important cofactor for vitamin D in the body is magnesium. Magnesium participates in many enzymatic reactions. Between vitamin D and magnesium, the immune system is strengthened. I take 150 mg of magnesium citrate twice per day. By the way, magnesium also helps us to get a restful sleep, if we take it at bedtime.

Other dietary factors that strengthen the immune system

Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids

It is important to note that polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body and help to modulate the immune system. I take 1800 mg of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) twice per day. I also like to eat fish and seafood at least 3 times per week.

Probiotics

Prebiotics benefit both the innate and the adaptive immune system. They strengthen the epithelial gut barrier, which is an important innate immune defence. Probiotics also lower the risk for Clostridium difficile gut infections. I take one probiotic every morning.

The Immune System Changes With Age

The Immune System Changes With Age

Conclusion

The immune system consists of different organs like the bone marrow, the spleen, lymph glands, Peyer’s patches in the gut, the thymus gland and more. There is the innate immune system, which responds immediately to a virus like the Covid-19 coronavirus. The adaptive immune response involves antibody production against, for instance, the measle virus or the mumps virus. With the aging process the immune system slows down (immunosenescence). This involves an accumulation of memory T cells and a depletion of natural killer cells (NK cells). This means that the innate immunity is getting weaker as we age and chronic inflammation occurs more often. This is the reason why people above the age of 65 get more severe symptoms from the Covid-19 coronavirus. They are also more affected by influenza-type illnesses.

Take supplements to strengthen the immune system

I reviewed the cofactors of a healthy immune system in some detail. It is important that you pay attention to these, particularly the vitamin D3 intake. With a strong immune system, we can survive viral infections better, including the current Covid-19 coronavirus. Future research will likely detect how to reactivate a sluggish immune system in older people. This way vaccination responses following flu injections will become more reliable in seniors.

Jun
20
2020

Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

We knew since the mid 1990’s that chronic inflammation can cause many diseases. Among these are cancer, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), arthritis, dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), frailty and other degenerative disorders. LifeExtension reviewed this topic in 2019.

Older people often accumulate chronic inflammation, which associates with the aging process. Persistent pain is one of the symptoms that chronic inflammation can cause.

Doctors use tests like the C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1C, homocysteine and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate to measure chronic inflammation.

When the doctor diagnoses chronic inflammation, it is important to find ways to inhibit it and finally resolve it. Curcumin, ginger and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are examples of measures that help inhibit inflammation. But it is only lately that scientists have found specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM) that help to resolve chronic inflammation. They are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which health food stores offer as supplements.

Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM)

Researchers isolated several pro-resolving mediators that are metabolites of omega-3 fatty acids. This link discusses an experiment where researchers obtained synovial fluid from arthritis patients who took omega-3 fatty acids. They compared this to synovial fluid from volunteers who also took omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Within 4 weeks there was a big difference for the arthritis patients with higher levels of E- and D-series SPMs in synovial fluid and plasma. Dr. Silverman reviewed the action of SPMs here. He points out that they can be taken as supplements and that they are safe, because they do not have any side effects. Conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and various musculoskeletal conditions with chronic inflammation respond very well to SPM supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (EPA) metabolize into the E-series resolvins.  On the other hand, Krill oil with Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) metabolizes into protectins, maresins and the D-series resolvins.

Three vital tasks of pro-resolving mediators

SPMs fulfill three vital tasks, called remove, restore and renew.  First, they activate macrophages, which remove dead cells and cellular debris as a result of chronic inflammation. Second, they restore the healthy balance of inflammatory compounds and anti-inflammatory substances. Third, SPMs help renew tissues that were damaged by chronic inflammation.

Some examples where SPM’s were helpful resolving inflammation in health conditions

  • Alzheimer’s disease patients had reduced SPMs in cerebrospinal fluid of living patients and in the hippocampus of corpses who had Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A research group showed that defective SPM resolution can be responsible for missing resolution of atheromatous plaques in arteries. This leads to more and more hardening of arteries until a heart attack or stroke occurs.
  • With obesity or metabolic syndrome insulin resistance develops. Researchers found that certain SPM’s are missing in obesity, which causes chronic inflammation. However, they also found that precursors of SPMs such as 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid (17-HDHA) can serve as a novel treatment agent to treat obesity-related complications.

Newer studies about SPMs

  • 62 patients with knee osteoarthritis had the precursor of resolvins, 17-HDHA tested in the blood. Compared to controls with no arthritis the 17-HDHA level in the arthritis patients was low. When levels of 17-HDHA were high, there was no pain in osteoarthritis patients.
  • Chronic periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory condition in the mouth. In a rabbit model this condition was cured with resolvin E1 derived from omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Delayed wound healing is typical for type 2 diabetes. In a mouse model with diabetic mice researchers inflicted skin wounds on mice. Subsequently they showed that with resolvins mice wounds healed much faster than in control mice.
  • Chronic kidney failure, liver impairment, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease showed abnormalities in the SPM system in humans. Potentially they will be healed with the help of resolvins or their precursors, which includes the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

Conclusion

New compounds have been detected that derive from the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have the name specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM). Included are the resolvins D1 and D2, the resolvins E1, E2 and E3 as well as the precursors 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE) and 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid (17-HDHA). The function of these compounds is to stimulate macrophages to clean up areas of chronic inflammation and remove cell debris and injured cells that cannot survive. While anti-inflammatories like ginger and curcumin only tone down the inflammation, SPMs help to resolve chronic inflammation. Various chronic clinical conditions were identified as being due to chronic inflammation. Chronic kidney failure, liver impairment, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease showed abnormalities in the SPM system. We may soon see alternative approaches treating these conditions with specialized pro-resolving mediators.

Jun
06
2020

Adequate Vitamin D Level Strengthens the Immune System

The Covid-19 coronavirus crisis is teaching us that an adequate vitamin D level strengthens the immune system.

When we age, our resistance to infections weakens, but this may be because our immune system needs more vitamin D3. I have reviewed the super powers of vitamin D3 before in 2014. In the past the thought was that the human body would need only 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day to cure rickets. And these were the daily vitamin D3 recommendations from medical authorities for several decades. Gradually it became known that for cancer prevention, infection prevention, cardiovascular illness prevention and for diabetes prevention much higher doses of vitamin D3 were necessary. As pointed out in the previous link, almost 50% of the world population is deficient in vitamin D. This is due to a lack of exposure to sunlight and due to inadequate supplementation with vitamin D3.

History of vitamin D

Dr. Adolf Windaus received the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1928. It was to acknowledge “… his studies on the constitution of the sterols and their connection with vitamins”. His work involved the metabolism of vitamin D and the precursors of vitamin D.

Rickets

As the above link shows, rachitic children were treated since the mid 1800’s with cod liver oil and since the early 1900’s also with ultraviolet light. But we know now that 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day is just enough to cure rachitic children, but it is not enough to strengthen the immune system to fight influenza viruses or the Covid-19 coronavirus. I will discuss further below what vitamin D blood levels are important to achieve a healthy state of the immune system.

Adequate vitamin D level strengthens the immune system

The immune system is very complicated and consists of many cell types that interact with each other and the rest of the body. It is important to recognize that the innate immune system immediately inactivates intruding viruses. But the vitamin D blood concentration has to be high enough. The acquired immunity consists of antibodies that are produced by B cells. The antibodies were produced during prior infections that you have survived and you are now immune to. However, other antibodies that circulate in your blood may have originated from vaccines you received in the past (whooping cough, measles, tetanus, diphtheria etc.). With the Covid-19 coronavirus it is the innate immunity that plays the biggest role until a vaccine will be found in the future.

Vitamin D is a hormone

This 2013 paper explains that vitamin D is a hormone that stimulates its own vitamin D receptor. This is a nuclear receptor that has close relations to the cell DNA and can stimulate more than 900 polypeptides. They are messenger molecules that are involved in a variety of physiological functions. One of the key functions is the immune system. This link explains that T cells that have vitamin D receptors can develop into cytotoxic T cells (also known as “killer T cells”). They are important in fighting cancer, but also parasites.

The key is that the hormone vitamin D can release more than 100 polypeptides that have the power to fight virus attacks including the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Three mechanisms how vitamin D works against the virus

The researchers outlined 3 mechanisms of how vitamin D works:

  • Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate.
  • “Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the blood stream within 1 to 2 days.
  • “…And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” It is people who get the viral pneumonia that are at a high risk of death. By bringing the blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.

Two polypeptides, cathelicidin and defensins

Again, I like to emphasize that it is not vitamin D that has a direct effect on the virus. It is two polypeptides, cathelicidin and defensins, which are powerful antiviral polypeptides, that are released by vitamin D.

They can kill viruses that have invaded the blood stream and can eliminate the cytokine storm. This all happens very fast, within only 1 to 2 days. But you have to have an adequate vitamin blood level for this to occur (about 50-80 ng/mL).

Sources of vitamin D

First of all, vitamin D is readily absorbed from food. But there are not many foods that contain enough vitamin D for the immune system. The ones that contain vitamin D are as follows:

  • “Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
  • Beef liver.
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks. “

Sun induced amount of vitamin D

Secondly, vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin from exposure to sunlight. But for this to happen all the necessary enzymes need to be present.  This link explains that many older people above the age of 65 have low vitamin D blood levels because of a lack of sun exposure and a lack of cutaneous synthesis because of enzyme issues.

Vitamin D supplements

The most reliable source of vitamin D are vitamin D3 supplements. When people supplement with the same dose of vitamin D3 there will be people who get higher vitamin D blood levels than others, as absorption in the gut is different for different people.  The ones who have relatively low vitamin D blood levels are often called “slow vitamin D absorbers”. But when the vitamin D3 dosage is increased even those people will reach the recommended high normal range (50-80 ng/mL).

Vitamin D blood level

The vitamin D blood test has the scientific name “25-hydroxy vitamin D level”. This is now the recognized gold standard for determining who is deficient or has normal levels with respect to vitamin D. The following 2013 publication has studied the vitamin D level of 1,470 healthy Swiss men and women, 60 years or older. Vitamin D levels were classified as severely deficient when the level was below 10 ng/mL. The vitamin D level was deficient between 10 and 20 ng/mL. The level was insufficient when between 21 and 29 ng/mL. A level above 30 ng/mL is normal.

8 % of the subjects were severely insufficient and 66% had insufficient vitamin D levels. Only 26.1% of the subjects had normal levels. Over 50% of healthy older Swiss (above the age of 70) had insufficient vitamin D levels.

Which vitamin D level is safe and which is not?

A peer-reviewed publication of the effects of vitamin D in health and disease contains 269 references.

What vitamin D level is optimal? This question was reviewed in this paper.

  • Below 15 ng/mL the immune system is paralyzed
  • With a level above 30 ng/mL the immune system is working
  • A level of 50-80 ng/mL has the immune system working optimally
  • Above 150 ng/mL toxic vitamin D levels start
  • With 300 ng/mL severe toxicity begins

Vitamin D toxicity

It is only with high levels of vitamin D (more than 150 ng/mL) that you have to worry about high calcium levels in the blood or kidney stones (toxic levels). But the key is to not exceed 80 ng/mL regarding the vitamin D blood level. This gives you a lot of flexibility before you reach toxic levels (above 150 ng/mL). For those who want more information, here is a thorough, peer reviewed publication about vitamin D toxicity with 59 references.

Vitamin D supplement compliance

The question is why not more people take adequate vitamin D3 supplements.  We know that vitamin D can prevent so many chronic diseases including serious viral infections. The answer is complex, but it includes a fear of the population of vitamin toxicity (kidney stone and high calcium levels). However, as pointed out before, this occurs only above a vitamin D level of 150 ng/mL. With proper vitamin D blood level monitoring you never reach toxic levels of vitamin D.

Denial

Denial likely is another major factor. People feel that if they have a balanced diet, they would be protected from vitamin D insufficiency. As pointed out before this is a grave error to think as our food does not contain sufficient vitamin D to strengthen our immune system.

False security with low doses of vitamin D

Finally, there are people who think that low doses of vitamin D, like 1000 IU of vitamin D daily, would be enough. But it is not enough. This is why testing vitamin D blood levels is so important. It is a reality check. The blood level must be in the high normal range (50-80 ng/mL). At this level the immune system functions optimally.

Compliance issues

In this context there was an interesting study done by LifeExtension, a company that publishes monthly health magazines. In this study the company examined the vitamin D blood levels of LifeExtension members. They are the ones who should be knowledgeable in how important it is to have good, preventative vitamin D blood levels. The study showed that 38% of the vitamin D test results were less than 30 ng/mL. In addition, 69% of the vitamin D tests were less than 40 ng/mL. Finally, 85% of the vitamin D test results were less than 50 ng/mL. What this means is that LifeExtension members were non-compliant when it came to taking regular adequate vitamin D3 doses. This resulted in levels that were too low for the majority to protect them from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Covid-19 coronavirus infections and vitamin D blood level

There is a tight relationship between vitamin D blood levels and the strength of the immune system. Essentially, coronavirus mortality measures who is vitamin D deficient. Without enough vitamin D on board the virus penetrates into the blood stream and penetrates the lining of the respiratory tract. Next the cytokine storm develops, which leads to viral pneumonia. Higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of Covid-19 coronavirus.

Adequate Vitamin D Level Strengthens the Immune System

Adequate Vitamin D Level Strengthens the Immune System

Conclusion

The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has taught us how important an intact immune system is to survive the virus when you get it. We do know for some time how closely related a good vitamin D level is with the functioning of the immune system. I have reviewed here what a desirable vitamin D level is and how we can achieve this with oral vitamin D3 supplements. The goal is to achieve a vitamin D level in the upper range of normal (50-80 ng/mL). With a level like this the virus cannot penetrate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract and even if it did, it cannot produce a cytokine storm in the blood that would lead to the deadly viral pneumonia or to blood clots. When the virus invades the bloodstream, vitamin D releases powerful antiviral polypeptides that can kill viruses within 1 to 2 days.

Literature

Here are some peer-reviewed publications on vitamin D:

 

May
09
2020

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Vitamin D deficiency caused rickets in the past, but now we know that vitamin D is the definitive link for other health problems. The lack of it is the reason for numerous illnesses. A search in my website gives you more than 170 blogs where I am discussing the effect of vitamin D. These describe how vitamin D is the definitive link in a lot of different diseases. In a 2015 study from Brazil the authors noted that a critical vitamin D blood level was 12 ng/mL. All these critically ill patients received treatment in an ICU setting. In vitamin D blood levels of 12 ng/mL the mortality rate was 32.2%. A control group of ICU patients with more than 12 ng/mL had a mortality rate of only 13.2%. The authors concluded that a low vitamin D level on ICU admission was an independent risk factor for mortality in this critically ill patient group.

A few diseases where low vitamin D is the definitive link for a poor outcome

In patients, who have arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, influenza and others, the laboratory tests that shows their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level, are usually below 15 ng/mL. This link has 269 peer reviewed references.

2015 Italian study showed that microvascular complications in diabetes patients were high, if the vitamin D3 blood levels were low. If patients had high levels of vitamin D, there were no complications such as retinopathy or nephropathy. But if levels were below 20 ng/mL, damages were significant in the capillaries of the eyes and kidneys.

Multiple sclerosis

It has been known for some time that in the northern hemisphere MS is more common because of the lack of sunshine, which in turn leads to less vitamin D3 production in the skin. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease where immune cells attack the lining of nerves. Both nerve cells and immune cells have vitamin D receptors. It appears that vitamin D calms down immune cells and remission of an MS relapse is more likely.

Dr. Fitzgerald and colleagues published a study in JAMA Neurology in 2015. Results of this study showed marked differences between MS patients with high and low vitamin D levels.

Multiple sclerosis rates with high and low vitamin D levels

Patients with the highest vitamin D blood levels (more than 40 ng/mL) had the lowest rates of new MS lesions. Previous studies found that a low blood level of vitamin D (less than 25 ng/mL) had an association with a higher risk of developing MS. Dr. Fitzgerald’s study showed that a 20 ng/mL (50.0-nmol/L) increase in serum vitamin D levels associated with a 31% lower rate of new MS lesions. Patients with the highest vitamin D level of more than 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) had the lowest amount of new MRI lesions (47% less than the patients with the lowest vitamin D levels).

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

A 2014 study showed that patients with a low vitamin D level had a connection with a high risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Specifically, the researchers found the following observations.

  • Vitamin D level of less than 10 ng/mL: 122% increased risk of Alzheimer’s
  • A vitamin D level of 10 to 20 ng/mL: 51% increased risk of Alzheimer’s

Vitamin D is the definitive link for the immune system

In a publication of 2006 Dr. John Cannell and co-workers have reviewed why influenza has seasonal outbreaks. They found that the innate immune system was very dependent on vitamin D. Those who did not get enough sunlight in the northern hemisphere during January, February, March and April have an average 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of only 15 to 17 ng/mL. In contrast, from July to September the same volunteers had vitamin D levels of 24 to 29 ng/mL. The authors stressed that this was the reason why spring flus in the late winter/early spring season are common, but disappear in summer.

Vitamin D requirements for immune system is 2000 IU or more per day

Vitamin D is essential for the functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system. They also are the reason why children are not as affected by influenza viruses as adults are. Dr. Cannell said: “The innate immunity of the aged declined over the last 20 years due to medical and governmental warnings to avoid the sun. While the young usually ignore such advice, the elderly often follow it”. Had the older patients taken higher doses of vitamin D3 every day, their immunity would have been as strong as the children’s immunity. The publication cites another paper that found that 2000 IU per day or more will strengthen the immune system. Note that this is a higher dose than  treating rickets. Treatment of rickets responds to only 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day.

Mechanism of action of vitamin D in infectious diseases like influenza or Covid-19 coronavirus

Here is evidence from US researchers that states that higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of influenza and of Covid-19 coronavirus. The researchers outlined that vitamin D has 3 effects:

  1. Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate them.
  2. “Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the bloodstream within 1 to 2 days.
  3. “…And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” People who get viral pneumonia are at a high risk of death. By bringing the vitamin D blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.

Criticism of high dose vitamin D treatment

A common criticism of treatment with higher doses of vitamin D is that people would develop high blood calcium levels and would get kidney stones. Three recent studies have demystified this. A 2012 study looked at patients who were in the higher range of calcium levels, but deficient in vitamin D. They were treated with vitamin D3 und closely supervised. The calcium levels did not change after 1 year of high doses of vitamin D.

This 2018 study observed that there is a small amount of kidney stone formers who will form kidney stone with or without vitamin D3 treatment.  However, the large majority of patients do not form kidney stones with vitamin D treatment and their blood calcium levels stay the same before and after vitamin D treatment.

Toxic vitamin D blood levels

Toxic levels of vitamin D blood levels are above150 ng/mL, or 375 nmol/L. The therapeutic levels discussed here are well below these toxic levels.

Placebo controlled New Zealand study fails to show kidney stones

A placebo-controlled study from New Zealand went on for 3.3 years. 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 monthly (3333 IU per day on average) in the experimental group were compared to a placebo group. There were no vitamin D induced kidney stones and also no changes in calcium levels.

In past studies regarding vitamin D toxicity were done. But with these investigations there were many confounding factors that led to false results.  The investigators at those times mistakenly thought that they were side-effects of vitamin D. Up to this day conventional medicine often warns of hypercalcemia and kidney stones with vitamin D treatment. While the patient is on higher vitamin D levels, the physician can do blood and urine tests to see whether or not there is any concern.

Polypeptides released by vitamin D

There are more than 100 polypeptide hormones that are controlled by vitamin D. The most important ones for control of bacterial and viral infections are the defensin family and the cathelicidin family of polypeptides. They are instrumental in preventing the cytokine storm with a Covid-19 coronavirus infection treated with high vitamin D doses.

Decades after the original description of vitamin D researchers found out that vitamin D actually is a hormone.

There are vitamin D hormone receptors on almost every cell of the body. Vitamin D integrates the body cells and they respond as one unit. It is only recently that researchers found out about the release of polypeptides, particularly defensin and cathelicidin. They are  vital in the defence against the Covid-19 Coronavirus and the various flu types.

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Conclusion

The detection of vitamin D originally occurred when rickets was examined. But later researchers found that vitamin D has hormone qualities.

You can prevent several diseases, like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and influenza. But you must take adequate amounts of vitamin D to bring the vitamin D blood level up. 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels are now recognized as the standard test to measure whether you have enough vitamin D on board. When it comes to fighting infections the vitamin D blood level has to be above 30 ng/mL (above 75 nmol/L). At this level the immune system will release defensin and cathelicidin polypeptides. These are powerful antiviral and antibacterial substances that can even fight Covid-19 coronavirus.

High vitamin D therapy is safe

With careful monitoring of blood vitamin D levels side effects of high vitamin D dosages were not found. Conventional medicine keeps on repeating old studies with confounding errors. This scares people, and as a result they don’t want to take enough vitamin D for prevention. Hypercalcemia and kidney stones were NOT found in randomized newer studies. As long as the vitamin D level does not exceed 50-80 ng/mL (or 125-200 nmol/L) vitamin D therapy is perfectly safe.

Aug
03
2019

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death, that’s why it is important to learn about the best ways to prevent cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances (carcinogens) from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I shall list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat

When you use the BBQ, you should avoid burning your meat. Even though the marks of “charring” are considered desirable on meat from the grill, this is really burnt! As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat and simply cook your food longer. This way you don’t create carcinogens. Avoiding to burn your meat is particularly important for the red meats.

Sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods could cause cancer, but they do. The reason is that the metabolism of cancer cells is using 10- to 12-times more sugar than the metabolism of normal cells. The worst thing a cancer patient can do is to over-consume sugar. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless, plant-based sweetener and does not lead to an insulin reaction. Avoid all other sugar substitutes, as there are other heath problems with most of them.

Avoid phthalates

Those who have a craving for macaroni and cheese are out of luck. This food contains phthalates that are part of the ingredients of almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. So you must definitely avoid macaroni and cheese, at least the stuff from the box. Prepare your own!

A high fat diet

What does a high fat diet do? It increases the risk for breast cancer. But it can also increase colorectal cancer risk. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA. Increase your consumption of fish and seafood. Only one proviso: predator fish like shark, marlin, tilefish, swordfish and grouper are high in mercury. But wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury. You can also enjoy shrimps and prawns.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

High dose vitamin D3 supplements help you to avoid cancer. There are strong statistics showing that vitamin D3 is a powerful tool to lower your risk of developing cancer. Your family doctor should take a blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D level to make sure that you absorb enough vitamin D3. There are slow and fast absorbers and the only thing to know how well your gut absorbs vitamin D3 is in doing this blood test.

Also, curcumin (turmeric) 500 mg once per day is good for cancer prevention.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. When you eat plant-based food, you automatically get fiber in it. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber in their diet.

Avoid processed meat and too much red meat consumption

Processed meat and red meat cause cancer.

Beef, lamb and pork seem to contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense and eat fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother served beef as a Sunday dish.The rest of the week simple, plant-based foods appeared on the table. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

The claim that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as researchers thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer.

This link explains that eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

If you like tea, drink green tea or black tea. Sweeten it with stevia, but not with sugar. Tea has been shown to have cancer prevention properties.

Avoid alcohol consumption to prevent cancer.

Coffee is a healthy drink and it has mild anti-cancer effects as well. It does not matter whether you drink it caffeinated or decaffeinated.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking

If you are still smoking, quit smoking! Smoking is by and large the biggest risk for developing lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Watch your calorie intake

Eat smaller meals more often. This way the production of your digestive juices will consume some calories. In addition your taste buds are satisfied, so your hunger for food is more controlled. The end result is that you will not gain weight.

Prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes

This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risk factors to develop cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity. With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association to developing liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop cancer of the colon and rectum, breast cancer and bladder cancer.

Pollution

Poor air quality with pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer. Pollution does not stay local, but travels through the stratosphere around the globe. The result is that now 10 to 15% of lung cancer in the US occurs in patients who never smoked. This translates into 16,000 to 24,000 deaths annually of never-smokers in the US. In certain cities such as Beijing lung cancer rates have doubled in 9 years between 2002 and 2011. Lung cancer in non-smokers can be caused from exposure to radon, to second-hand tobacco smoke, and other indoor air pollutants.

Bioidentical hormone replacement

When males do not replace missing testosterone in andropause they are much more prone to develop prostate cancer. Similarly, when women are menopausal and do not get progesterone supplementation, they develop a higher amount of breast cancer due to estrogen dominance. It follows from this that bioidentical hormone replacement in menopause and andropause will help to prevent prostate cancer and breast cancer.

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Conclusion

There is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Other foods including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3 can help prevent cancer. Basically, you want to avoid all that is known to cause cancer and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer. This will help to decline your cancer risk. I suggest that in addition you should quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce excessive alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake. By doing this you prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, and you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

Practical hints regarding the best ways to prevent cancer

The best ways to prevent cancer is to avoid processed red meat and all other processed foods. Eat more vegetables, fruit, wild salmon and other seafood. Don’t eat red meat more often than once a week and make it red meat from grass fed animals. In addition exercise regularly, get enough sleep and practice some form of relaxation (yoga, Tai Chi, self-hypnosis etc.). This lifestyle will not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, but also the majority of cancers.

Previously published here.