Could the Sun Help You Fight the Flu?

September 28, 2009
Vitamin D, a powerful, natural antibiotic

Vitamin D, a powerful, natural antibiotic

Skin cancer is a huge topic of concern for lots of people.  As someone who is, shall we say, pigment challenged, I make a point to use sunscreen when I am out and will try to avoid spending too much time in the sun in the middle of the day.  While this is for sure keeping my skin healthy, is it helping me with the flu?

The sun is a huge source of Vitamin D, a key vitamin for health that is not readily available in the diet.  Yes you can get get some Vitamin D from drinking milk, however, the amount is so paltry it is almost a waste of time.

Recently there was a study published in Nature Journal where a group of scientists from UCLA confirmed two recent studies the showed we have a naturally occurring steroid hormone that in short is a powerful antibiotic.  This antibiotic increases the body’s production of a certain protein that is instrumental in destroying the cell walls of lots of bad stuff, including the flu virus.  Oh the name of this steroid hormone, yes Vitamin D.

Ever notice that tons of people get sick in the winter?  Ever wonder why?  What do we do in the winter, we stay inside.  We limit our exposure to sunlight.

The elderly die much more in the winter than in the summer, is this a coincidence?

So what do we do about  it?

There are several options.  First is spend a LITTLE time in the sun.  15 minutes a day every other day will do the body a ton of good.  If you can do this, most likely you won’t need anything else.  If getting outside is not an option, diet is the next step.  Food high in Vitamin D include…well nothing you really want to eat, let’ s be honest here.  If you are willing to ingest a bunch of cod liver oil, well let’s say you are a better person than I am.

Lastly you can go the supplement way. Just a word of caution there is a small chance that you can overdo it with the supplements, although a recent expert had this to say, “Worrying about vitamin D toxicity or Overdose of vitamin D is like worrying about drowning when you are dying of thirst.”

If you choose to go the supplement route, make sure you check with your doctor as to any contra-indications that may be present.  There is discussion as to how much you should be taking.  Most agree that 2,000 units per day is a decent amount.  Make sure that you look for vitamin D3, or cholecalcifero if you are shopping for it.

Any questions?  Leave me a comment and I will see if I can help you.


DHA or Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Alzheimer’s

July 13, 2009

The most complete study to date done on Omega 3 Fatty Acids (DHA) and the hope that it would slow Alzheimer’s has shown there is little help to be gained by taking the popular supplement.

In this study a group of people were given a placebo, with another group getting  a two gram dose of fatty acid every day. After 18 months the results showed no difference in the two groups.

If you are getting older in age and are worried about getting Alzheimer’s there is some evidence that a drink or two a day might help you fend off this terrible disease.  Experts at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina examined and interviewed 3,069 people aged 75 or older.  What they found was the light drinkers were 40% less likely to get Alzheimer’s when compared to the people who did not imbibe at all.

The study did point out that drinking more than that wiped out all benefits, so please don’t order that keg of Chablis just yet.

There is also a promising study out that states DHA may help people who are just starting to get a little forgetful, let’s call it pre-Alzheimer’s.  If you are starting to get forgetful, taking these supplements may improve your memory.  One of the researchers noted it would be like having the memory of someone 3 years younger.

The key distinction here is if the person already has Alzheimer’s.


Bummer About Ginkgo

November 19, 2008

In case you missed the news today, it has been widely reported that a study on Ginkgo Boloba and Alzheimers (AZ) did not turn out as favorably as hoped.  It had been hoped that by taking GB, you could prevent or delay the dementia that is associated with AZ.

3069 people had participated in the trial.  Just about 1/2 were given GB and 1/2 were given a placebo.  Neither the people or the doctors doing the testing knew who was taking what.  A double blind study, as explained prior, and the number of participants lends a lot of credibility to the study.

There is some question if the study followed the exact GB protocols.

As with any study, one does not mean anything is cast in stone.  There is another study going on in France with 2800 participants.  I think it is safe to say the GB community is certainly looking forward to a favorable report.