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Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplementation can cut risk of respiratory infections in children by half

Friday, August 24, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: vitamin D, respiratory infections, children

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(NaturalNews) If you or someone you know has children who routinely get respiratory infections, particularly during the winter months when natural exposure to the sun's rays is limited, you might want to seriously consider having them supplement daily with vitamin D3. A randomized, controlled study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that vitamin D-deficient children who supplement with this important nutrient throughout the winter months are about half as likely as their peers to suffer from respiratory infections.

For their study, Dr. Carlos Camargo, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston and his colleagues analyzed data from the Mongolia-based Blue Sky Study, which was conducted by researchers from Harvard University. Already aware of earlier observational studies showing a link between vitamin D and disease prevention, Dr. Camargo and his team set out to reinforce these earlier findings by compiling and analyzing data on the subject in a more concrete way.

So he and his team compared data compiled on respiratory infection rates among children living in Mongolia's capital city of Ulaanbaatar, all of whom were grossly deficient in vitamin D at the onset of the study. Some of the children received milk supplemented with vitamin D, while others received normal milk with no added vitamin D. None of the children, nor their parents, teachers, or local researchers, were aware of which milk had been supplemented and which had not, a key factor in any legitimate double-blind study.

Dr. Camargo and his team found that after just seven weeks of treatment with a mere 300 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, infection rates among the supplemented children dropped by half compared to non-supplemented children. At the study's onset, all the children had blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) averaging a measly seven nanograms per milliliter (7 ng/mL). But by the end of the study, the vitamin D group's 25OHD levels had more than doubled to 19 ng/mL.

"Our randomized controlled trial shows that vitamin D has important effects on infection risk," says Dr. Camargo. "In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection."

"Our study design provides strong evidence that the association between low vitamin D and respiratory infections is causal and that treating low vitamin D levels in children with an inexpensive and safe supplement will prevent some respiratory infections."

Imagine how healthy children could be with even higher vitamin D levels

Dr. Camargo admits that the effects of vitamin D were so drastic in his study because the children were all severely deficient in vitamin D at the beginning of the study. And even at the end of the study, the vitamin D group was still severely deficient in vitamin D, as the baseline deficiency threshold is around 30 ng/mL, or nearly double the final levels observed in the supplemented group.

Additionally, 300 IU daily of vitamin D is far too low to achieve optimal benefits from vitamin D. And yet, children given this paltry amount experienced dramatic health improvements in under than two months, illustrating the truly amazing power of vitamin D to heal and prevent disease.

But just imagine how healthy these and many other children around the world would be if they were given the equivalent of, say, 3,000 IU of vitamin D every day for seven months rather than seven weeks. Such a regimen would surely push them into the Vitamin D Council's optimal estimated range of 50 - 80 ng/mL of 25OHD, a level that would not only prevent respiratory infections, but also stymie a host of other chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.

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