Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vitamin D, Nutrition, Exercise, and Rest - Not the Flu Shot

It's that time of year again – fall is finishing its course as we shift to winter and many people are experiencing increased illness. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sun's angle is reaching its lowest point, temperatures are dropping, the air is getting drier, and people are spending even more time indoors than they normally do. It is also about the time we begin hearing the coercive drumbeat to “get your flu shot” because it is “flu season” and you've gotta protect yourself.

Despite what is commonly accepted concerning the nature of influenza, you don't have to participate in flu season by getting the flu and preventing it does not require a dangerous, ineffective flu shot in order to avoid its prolonged ill effects. But before delving in to some of the reasons why the flu shot is dangerous and ineffective, I would like to first talk about the flu itself and why people get it.

The flu is commonly described as an infectious disease, a virus to be specific, yet there are several characteristics of it that are peculiar including its seasonal and coincidental outbreak pattern in various populations around the world of similar latitudes at specific times of the year. Even in the days before we had airplanes and rapid transit, why is it that populations around the world witnessed the outbreak of a disease at around the same seasonal increments, year after year, when they were not all in contact with one another? The ambiguity surrounding the flu “virus” has led many researchers to a logical explanation, mainly that it is a dormant "virus", a condition that arises from nutritional and vitamin deficiency, particularly at certain times of the year.

During the summer months, the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are the short-wavelength rays, are able to penetrate the ozone layer most easily and directly. The UVB rays are the ones responsible for causing your skin to produce vitamin D – in fact about 80% of the vitamin D in your body comes from the sun's UVB rays. Despite the scare frenzy over the “dangers” of sunlight, our bodies need proper sunlight as it is one of the primary sources of fuel that our bodies use to produce much-needed vitamin D. Unfortunately, during the winter months, sun exposure is limited because it is cold outside in most places and, even if you were to go outside, most of the UVB rays that are present during the summer are filtered out by the ozone layer due to the sun's lowered angle (although you can still get some).

How does the sun cause our bodies to produce the vitamin D we need to prevent and fight illness? Our skin contains a cholesterol derivative called 7-dehydrocholesterol. When the UVB rays from the sun impact the skin, they break open one of the carbon rings in this molecule to form vitamin D. This activated form of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) attaches to gene receptors that control their expression, controlling protein production by turning it on or off. Vitamin D regulates the expression of more than 1,000 genes throughout the body including the ones in macrophages, cells in the immune system that attack and destroy viruses, among other things. Vitamin D is responsible for switching on the genes in the macrophages that make antimicrobial peptides, the body's natural antibiotics that attack and destroy both bad bacteria and viruses. The beauty of this natural process is that vitamin D also expresses the genes that stop the macrophages from overreacting to infections and releasing too many inflammatory agents – cytokines – that can damage the infected tissue. Autopsies from the Spanish flu pandemic show that macrophage-induced inflammation reacted so severely to the virus that it completely destroyed the epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. In other words, the victims' own immune systems attacked and killed them rather than the virus, a reaction that would not have occurred had vitamin D levels remained at an optimum level.

“Flu season” is generally during the seasons of the year when vitamin D levels in the average person are at their lowest, usually around 15-18 ng/ml; the optimum level is between 50-99 ng/ml. 15-18 ng/ml is enough to prevent getting rickets, but it is not enough to achieve the other gene-regulating benefits of vitamin D, including its protective power against infection and the flu.

Another unit of measure for vitamin D is IU, or international units. The government's recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 400 IU, yet it takes between 2,000 – 5,000 IU of vitamin D a day to achieve its illness-fighting benefits and protection. To put this into perspective concerning sun exposure as the primary means of vitamin D synthesis, a light-skinned person will synthesize about 20,000 IU of vitamin D laying out in the sun on a tropical beach for only 20 minutes during the summer months, after which the body will automatically shut down synthesis for the day (don't you love God's natural, built-in mechanisms for bodily function?) This means that, during the summer months, being out in the sun for just a short period of time will elevate the synthesis of vitamin D in the body, bolstering the immune systems of people during this season. In the winter, however, this is not the case, causing many to become ill, especially the weak and immuno-compromised.

Vitamin D also works as a treatment for the flu. According to Dr. John Cannel of the Vitamin D Council, a 2,000 UI dose of vitamin D per kilogram of body weight (one pound is 0.45 kg) taken once a day for three days is effective at wiping out the flu. Vitamin D is available as a supplement (be sure it is natural and not synthetic vitamin D). It is also contained in high levels in cod liver oil, fish, raw milk (vitamin D-enhanced pasteurized milk is usually synthetic vitamin D and is actually harmful), cheese, and eggs, to name just a few. Tanning beds are also a good option, but it is important to use ones that contain electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts because magnetic ballasts emit harmful radiation. (Many vitamin D-enhanced foods, including pasteurized milk, do not contain nearly the amount of daily vitamin D needed to prevent disease – it would literally take hundreds of glasses of milk a day to achieve the levels I have mentioned. Not only this, but many of these fortifications use synthetic vitamin D which is not the same and is actually harmful to the body.)

In addition to natural vitamin D as a preventative, and therapeutic treatment, for the flu (as well as for all other illness), there are other healthful steps that can be taken including getting a proper amount of restful sleep, exercising, getting whatever sunlight you can (even if it is cold outside), cutting out refined sugar (since it greatly suppresses the immune system and causes disease), and eating immune-boosting foods that are whole and nutritious. Hydrosol silver (nano-particles of silver mixed with water) is also a powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial solution that is highly effective at maintaining health. It even differentiates between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria in your system, targeting only the bad (unlike most common antibiotics that destroy all the flora in your intestines where your immune system is maintained). There are many methods to staying healthy and vitamin D is a crucial, foundational component.

So where does the flu shot fit in with all of this? Well, that is a good question since there is absolutely no concrete evidence that the flu shot is even effective. Aside from the fact that the correct strain is usually not chosen when formulating the vaccine, it is not even the flu that is generally responsible for the thousands of deaths that occur each year in correlation with the flu. The CDC claims that 36,000 people die every year from the flu, but more than 34,000 of these deaths are “influenza-associated” pneumonic and cardiovascular deaths. Also, the majority of the people who die from flu-related illness (mostly pneumonia) are over age 65 and many studies, including one done by The Group Health (as reported in the New York Times) found that pneumonia occurred with equal frequency in people over age 65 with or without a flu shot. In kids, a review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than placebo.

A few studies do claim that the flu shot is effective at preventing the flu with one showing a 1% reduction in the absolute risk of contracting it and another a 6% reduction. In these same studies, 99% and 94% of the people, respectively, received no benefit at all, and 2% and 4% of those who received the shot, respectively, got the flu anyway. These are dismal numbers that clearly illustrate the flu shot as a failure.

The flu shot doesn't stop at being ineffective; it is also dangerous. To make the vaccine, drug companies grow the viruses in fertilized chicken eggs for up to eight months. Once complete, formaldehyde, also known as rat poison (a known cancer-causing agent), is used to inactivate the virus. Aluminum, a neurotoxin that is believe to play a role in Alzheimer's disease, is then added to promote an antibody response. Other additives include Triton X-100 (a detergent), Polysorbate 80 (a highly toxic agent that damages the immune system, causes reproductive problems, and cancer), carbolic acid, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), and various antibiotics including neomycin, streptomycin, and gentamicin. Two-thirds of the vaccines made for the 2008-09 flu season, about 100 million of them, contain full-dose thimerosal, an organomercury compound, which is 49% mercury by weight. Each dose contains 25 micrograms of mercury, equal to 50,000 parts per billion, which is 250 times more than the EPA's safety limit. Mercury is a neurotoxin with a toxicity level 1,000 times that of lead.

If that wasn't bad enough, the combination of mercury with aluminum and formaldehyde renders them even more toxic than if they were alone because of a synergistic effect. One study reported that people who received the flu vaccine each year for 3 to 5 years had a ten-fold greater chance of developing Alzheimer's disease than people who did not have any flu shots. Mercury is also implicated in the development of autism.

Other reactions from the flu shot include joint inflammation, arthritis, anaphylactic shock, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a paralytic autoimmune disease that can inflict a person a few weeks after getting the shot, rendering him paralyzed and debilitated. Perhaps this is why 70% or more of doctors do not get flu shots themselves (and probably more would not if it weren't mandatory for many health care workers at certain hospitals).

The evidence is overwhelming and conclusive that the flu vaccine is useless and ineffective in dealing with the flu. It is also dangerous and harmful since it is full of a host of highly toxic components. There is no reason to get it unless you want to further damage your immune system and risk obtaining some very serious disorders and conditions. There are a whole host of effective, natural, safe ways by which we can maintain health and prevent illness. They all involve using God-given means and methods to give our bodies what they need to fight off illness on their own. Nutrients, vitamins, sleep, exercise – these are what the body needs to stay physically healthy, not a flu shot.

Sources include information gathered from:
Dr. Donald W. Miller, Jr. MD
Dr. Mercola
Natural News