Vitamin D vs. The Influenza Vaccine
This month I was going to discuss how upper cervical adjustments can impact brain chemistry. That is an interesting and important topic, but I am going to delay that blog to discuss a more time sensitive topic this month…Influenza. We have been hearing for months that flu season is coming and it has now arrived in many areas. We are bombarded with the message to “get your flu shot”. Unfortunately, what is not shouted from the rooftops is “take your vitamin D!”.
In the world of research, the “Gold Standard” for a study is for it to be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Did you know that a study of this type has never been done to check/prove the effectiveness of the flu vaccine? There was however a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effectiveness of vitamin D. It was published in the March 10, 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results are quite amazing. In the study, 167 children were in the placebo group (not given vitamin D). 31 of them contracted influenza over the four months of the study. Conversely, 168 children were given 1200IU’s of vitamin D3 every day. Of these children, only 18 contracted influenza.
Now, some of the children in the study were already receiving vitamin D supplements before the study began. If you remove those children from the study, the results are even more impressive as vitamin D reduced the infection risk by nearly two-thirds. In other words, more than 6 out of 10 children who would have contracted influenza were protected by vitamin D supplementation. In addition, the study also showed that the vitamin D supplementation “strongly suppressed symptoms of asthma”.
As mentioned above, there are no randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on the flu vaccine. So, the Cochrane group set out to assess what is published to prove the efficacy of the flu vaccine. They did a vast search and settled on the 52 best clinical trials of over 80,000 people. You can go to their website and search for their review. It is titled “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults”. They concluded that “Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza…as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent one influenza case”. In other words,” healthy adults who receive inactivated parenteral influenza vaccine rather than no vaccine probably experience less influenza, from just over 2% to just under 1%.” It would be nice to have a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the efficacy of the influenza vaccine. Until then, I will make sure I take my vitamin D supplements.