Monthly Archives: March 2009

Linus Pauling made a Typo: It was D, NOT C for Colds

Linus Pauling made a Typo: It was D, NOT C for Colds

Competency # 17  Vitamin D

Reference: Ginde et al, Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(4):384-390

We’ve spent 40 years trying to find out the proof that Vitamin C helps prevent colds.  If there is any proof, it’s thin.  Despite all the ads on TV about orange juice and Vitamin C and colds, Vitamin C just doesn’t deliver like we hoped it would.  Could Linus have been a lousy typist and just had a typo?  I believe he really meant to hit the D key, and missed!  It wasn’t C.  It was D.

Now, our most reliable database on health and nutrition, the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data has been plumbed to find the truth.  A national survey of colds and vitamin D levels (1988-1994) with over 19,000 randomized US citizens was conducted.  Extensive questionnaires about recent health and then physical exams and blood work with a mobile lab were done.  Vitamin D levels were collected as part of a broad series of tests.

This is the first huge population survey to look at D and colds.  What they found is very powerful.  If your D level drops below 10 ngs, you have a 567% increased risk of a cold if you have asthma compared to normal folks with a level of 30 ngs.  If you had COPD, your risks were 226% higher for a cold. If you didn’t have asthma or COPD, your risk only rises by 25%.    That still is huge.  Your risk of getting a cold drops 25% for everyone if you have enough D.

The mechanism for how D works is pretty well worked out.  D stimulates the production of a protein called cathelicidin (hCAP-18) . Cathelicidin is your natural antibiotic.  It helps you kill germs by encouraging white cells to get to the site of infection and gobble up germs.  hCAP-18 is directly produced when you have adequate D and it’s hCAP-18 that turns on your white cells.  And it all depends on D level.  Below 10 ngs and you are in trouble.  From 10-30, they see intermediate risk of colds.  Above 30 ng and it appeared that the effect plateaus off, though the researchers admit the study was too small to be able to see if there was an optimal level above 30 ngs.

During the summer, many Caucasians in Wisconsin will get to 40-50 ng with sensible sun exposure.  By October, that level is falling and as a population we hit 30 somewhere around November 1.  And we start getting colds when?  (Hint: Nov 2).  Measurements of our African American community in Milwaukee show an average D level of 15 in late summer and winter.   Hence, the more skin pigment you have, the more risk you have for colds for a longer period of time during the winter.

WWW:  What will work for me?  Well, we know you can raise your D level by 15 ng in two days with a single 100,000 IU dose of D.    I am not telling my patients with colds and with asthma or COPD to take 10,000 IU a day for a month, but I might start talking about 100,000 all at once as soon as they get a cold if they have never taken D before.  I’ve had more than one person say they got better in just a day or two from the “same cold that everyone else was out for a week with” when they took 50,000 IU all at once.  Pauling was right.  We need a supplement when we get a cold.  He was just a lousy typist and couldn’t spell.   I can relate to that.

Vitamin D Levels Linked to Muscle Power in Girls.

Vitamin D Levels Linked to Muscle Power in Girls.

Competency # 17  Vitamin D

Reference: J Clin Endocrinol Metab 94: 559-563, 2009

Goodness gracious!  Now, this sounds like steroids in athletes.  Well, actually, it is.  Here is a fascinating story that helps you to understand how vitamin D works.  Remember, Vit D is NOT a vitamin.  It is a hormone because it acts on genes.  About 10% of the human genome is affected by D.   Essentially, the way it works is to encourage cells to develop from their stem cell resting state into a mature state in which they can do their function.

What the researchers reported from Manchester, England was the results of a study comparing the ability to run, jump and push in 99 girls ages 12-14.   How athletic were the girls?  How much innate “force” did they have?  What they found was a clear linear relationship between the ability to show force (push, pull, jump) correlated directly with their vitamin D level.   They integrated the product of speed and height in jumping to come up with a product they called force.  There was a direct correlation with Vitamin D levels and the ability to generate force.

This sounds simple but I believe the implications are pretty profound.  Our bodies are collections of thousands of kinds of cells.  Even quite little muscle cells have some stem cells sitting there waiting for an adequate level of D to inspire them to get stronger.  Do they function and act in the manner to which they were intended to act?  If you can’t get any vitamin D and your blood level gets too low, do you get weaker?  We do know that frail elderly fall more when their blood levels of D get low.  You can lower their rate of falls dramatically by increasing the amount of D that gets their blood to adequate levels.   Does winter make us weaker?  After five months of darkness, does our muscle mass get smaller?  If it did, we would put on weight.  Our muscles burn the majority of our calories because they continue to burn calories even in a resting state.  That’s why exercise is a key component of weight loss.  We want you to exercise to develop your muscles so that they can burn calories, even while you sleep.  Do you put on weight in winter?  I do.

So, it is steroids! Your natural steroid.  Sunshine makes you make D.  D makes your muscles develop.  You get stronger.  You burn more calories.  The cool thing is that D is your natural steroid hormone.   We know that D is not harmful to your muscles.  Do you think our sports teams have any advantage to going somewhere sunny for spring training?  Would they be just as ready for opening day if they were working out in Minneapolis?  This research says the answer is no!

WWW:  What will work for me?  Wow, another reason to take D.  (Just in case I hadn’t given you enough yet!).  Keep your muscles strong in their natural state of maturity.  Don’t let yourself get overweight during the winter.  And if you want your kid to do well in sports, make sure they are on D too!  How about 2,000 IU for everyone!

Iodine 3: So, What’s the Bottom Line. Is it good or bad for me?

Iodine 3:  So, What’s the Bottom Line.  Is it good or bad for me?

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference: Altern Med Rev 2008; 12 (2): 116-127

Cutting edges usually have two sides, both of them sharp.  Our standard teaching in American medicine today is that 1 mg of Iodine a day may be toxic for you and that all you need is some 200-300 micrograms.   That’s the textbook.   Certainly, people with thyroid diseases may become quite “hyperthyroid” and ill if they start taking iodine.  An “alternative” explanation for that may be that their thyroid has been so deficient in iodine that it has ramped up all its cellular activities to squeeze the very utmost of capacity out of the tiny bit of iodine we get.  When an adequate supply shows up, that thyroid gland just takes off like crazy.   And then slows down over time.

But is it really toxic?  I have two stories to share.  The man who discovered Vitamin C and got the Nobel Prize for it, Albert Szent-Györygi, ended his career working as a research scientist at Woods Hole Marine Biology lab until he was 93.  He took a gram a day of iodine.   Swore by it.  One story does not final truth make!   But there is the report of a man who drank 600 mls of SSKI solution (old fashioned treatment for COPD) and got 15 grams of iodine all at once.  All his secretory glands became swollen.  His eyes puffed shut.  His cheeks got fat from his salivary glands.  And in a week he got better from his iodine toxicity.

This is my take.  Iodine is another forgotten nutrient.  The Japanese provide us with a unique best practice population example with a dramatic demonstration of reduced risk for our worst cancer, breast cancer and one of our most troublesome women’s conditions, fibrocystic breast disease.

Finally, every holistic conference I go to talks about fatigued men and women in their 50s and 60s benefiting massively from a tiny bit of thyroid hormone…. What!  Don’t take thyroid hormone…take adequate iodine for your own thyroid to be able to do its own magic within the balance of your own body.  Trust your biology.  Just give it what it needs.

How can you get iodine?  It’s by prescription only.  Lugol’s solution is a dye that’s been around for 150 years.  Two drops a day, 13 mg, costs about $ 10 a year.  Tastes awful and needs to be mixed in food.  There is a prescription pill called Iodoral that has 13 mg in it that costs somewhere around $ .50 cent a pill.  Tastes fine.  SSKI solution has about 38 mg to a drop.  Not all pharmacies carry these products.  Compounding pharmacies do.  You can Google one in your neighborhood.  Aurora pharmacies also have it, as we have made the commitment to be early on the innovation curve.  But you should do it under the supervision of a doctor who feels comfortable with it and who checks your thyroid hormone here and there.

WWW:  What will work for me?  I have consumed many grams of iodine in my youth.  Every time I travel overseas I get iodine tablets to purify water and have drunk many grams of iodine.  Makes the water taste funny.  But I never get sick.  Now I started taking 2 drops a day of Lugol’s mixed in food.  Tastes terrible if it’s not diluted enough.  Haven’t noticed a thing.  Still walking on water naturally (because it’s still only 17 degrees).   I’m eagerly waiting more research…and spring!