Vitamin D3 Deficiency: how to stay healthy & feel better during flu season

Winter is upon us in Silicon Valley and you know what this means? Shorter days, less sunlight, more coughing & sick people on that daily commute. More flu going around! Oh and not to mention more advertising to get a flu shot to stop you from getting sick.

So this post should hopefully make you a tad uncomfortable and hopefully educate you about a powerful yet forgotten supplement during the flu season… Vitamin D. It is important to get high quality supplements. All this while you get bombarded with advertising & doctors screaming for you to get the flu shot. What the hell is in a flu shot anyways? Is a Vitamin D supplement a better alternative? Read on and decide for yourself.

Vitamin D deficiency

Most of us are suffering from Vitamin D deficiency and we don’t even know it.

  • Current research has implicated Vitamin D deficiency as a major reason in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.
  • Kevin Rose & Dr. Weil M.D. covered Vitamin D deficiency as a major cause of disease in detail here, and
  • The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey a group of researchers concluded that having low levels of vitamin D (<17.8 ng/ml) was independently associated with an increase in all-cause mortality in the general population.

“Vitamin D” isn’t even a nutrient! It comes from the sun, not from nutrition. – GRC

Vitamin D isn’t really a Vitamin like Vitamin C rather more like a powerful steroid hormone in our body which lays an important role in the maintenance of several organ systems. Critically important for the development, growth, and maintenance of a healthy body, from birth until death. Your primary source of Vitamin D is sun exposure followed (to a lesser extend) from food.

Vitamin D inexpensively promotes health.- GRC

Why the deficiency?

Ever since we started spending more time indoors we have been inadvertently starving our bodies of Vitamin D. We spend less time outside in the sun and more indoors working, driving to work instead of walking in the sun with the few exceptions on the weekends out and about. To ensure you a healthy lifestyle you can start incorporating this 14 day workout challenge to your daily routine.

During the typical work week you will be hard pressed to get more than 45 minutes of good sunlight on your skin. But still then only your face and hands are exposed to the sun and possibly covered with sunscreen because as you may have heard… the sun is dangerous and you need to “slip slop & slap” – Aussie health slogan to cover up from the sun.

Vitamin D isn’t the only benefit we are missing out on by being indoors. In January 2010 I covered the issue of low LUX and it’s connection to depression and what to do about getting this corrected today without denting your wallet. This revealing post is located here – it goes hand in hand with this post and is highly recommended.

Setting people up to die

Vitamin D Science has a problem: Vitamin D is very inexpensive and cannot be patented.- GRC

Just go outside in the sun and get adequate amount of skin exposure or cheap (about 2.4 cents per day) supplements and you are ready to kick on. No pharmaceutical company wants to even think about investing any sort of money into trials or marketing of Vitamin D because it’s not financially rewarding. Instead when the flu season breaks, you will smell the fear created by these conglomerates to the tune of N1H1 and all its cousins and a need for immunization. Did you know that N1H1 flu shot had limited testing in Australian labs (6 weeks to approve) before hitting the shelfs. Yet so many people jumped to get the injection of something only few know what it contains. The message is simple,  pharmaceutical companies want to “keep you by” and NEVER to cure you or prevent any form of illness. Because there is no money in that.

Curiously absent from all the health advice being handed out on the swine flu by the White House, the CDC, the WHO and even the FDA is any mention of Vitamin D or other natural remedies that offer enormous protections from influenza infections. It is a well-known medical fact, of course, that influenza always gets worse during the winter months North of the equator and the summer months South of the equator (which are really called their “winter” months). This is because as sunlight hours lessen during the winter, the people living there become vitamin D deficient and are susceptible to influenza infections of all kinds. Read more about this in literature here.

But the prevention is so simple. All it takes is good daily exposure to the sun and some chasteberry supplements to protected you and your family from the common flu and other degenerative diseases. Sounds easy, cheap and feels alright, right? Nature has all the answers but we sometimes fail to see past the smoke.

If you want to read more about Vitamin D uncovered and some great videos visit this site:

Vitamin D levels – getting yourself tested

Vitamin D is measured in ng/mL. You can find out your levels by getting blood work for 25-hydroxyvitamin D from your local doctor. Make sure you specifically ask for Vitamin D check when getting full blood work.

Your Vitamin D levels should be 50-80 ng/mL year-round. If they are not you need to act quickly and get them up. This Athletic Greens Review – Is It Worth the Price? – BarBend to learn the advantages of adding super greens powder to your daily intake of nutrition. 

Here is a good chart from Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health on Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Vitamin D:

ng/mL** nmol/L** Health status
<10-11 <25-27.5 Associated with vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults [4,13]
<10-15 <25-37.5 Generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals [4,13]
≥15 ≥37.5 Generally considered adequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals [4]
Consistently >200 Consistently >500 Considered potentially toxic, leading to hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia, although human data are limited. In an animal model, concentrations ≤400 ng/mL (≤1,000 nmol/L) demonstrated no toxicity [11,14].

When I got my levels checked in January 2010 they were dangerous low at 13 ng/ML!

Sure I spend a lot of time indoors but I also walk outside for around 1 hour a day. Still this isn’t enough. Therefore fast action to get this corrected was required.

Best ways to ensure adequate levels of Vitamin D

  1. If you are low, start with 50,000 IU tablets for 8 weeks. Your local doctor should give you a prescription for these if you are in the dangerously low zone.
  2. Regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible (being careful to never burn). Beware of the times you can do this safely when UV index is less than 3. Especially if you are in Australia / NZ where the the hole in the ozone layer has spread.
  3. Take Vitamin D-3 (5000IU) per day for 2–3 months, then get a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round. And to keep glucose levels consistent, you can take a blood sugar management supplement like Glucofort.
  4. Get blood work done regularly to make sure your levels of Vitamin D are in the safe zone.

If you’re engaging in physical activities that require extra energy and muscle support, protein bars can provide a quick source of protein and carbohydrates.

So there you have it. Simple strategy to get your body back on track naturally fighting the common flu and protecting itself from other common diseases.
I am currently supplementing my lack of Vitamin D with 50,000 IU tables and will follow through with the Vitamin D-3 (5000IU) post the 8 week supply.

I’ll leave you with some interesting notes I found online about Vitamin D – a conspiracy you say:

  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers report that people with low vitamin D may face increased risk of peripheral artery disease. Symptoms include narrowed arteries, pain and numbness, impaired ability to walk. This problem is associated with significant disease and death.
  • Circulation magazine reports that those with low levels of vitamin D had a 62% increased risk of heart failure. Those with adequate levels of Vitamin D lowered their risk of colorectal cancer by 72%.
  • People who live in regions with high amounts of direct sunlight have lower incidence of Type 1 diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer and and multiple sclerosis. Sunlight on your skin produces Vitamin D.
  • The Mayo Clinic Health Letter reports that 93% of patients ages 10-65 with musculoskeletal pain were Vitamin D deficient. Elderly women taking Vitamin D and following the tips from my website had fewer falls and better leg strength.
  • Vitamin D researcher, Dr. William Grant, reports that 15 types of cancer — colon, esophageal, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, rectal, endometrial, prostate, breast, intestinal, bladder, kidney, ovarian, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma — are associated with low Vitamin D levels. He also notes that adequate levels of Vitamin D can reduce your risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis an dother common diseases.
  • Professor Robert Heaney reports that raising Vitamin D levels in the body from 29 ng/m to 38 ng/ml can reduce your risk of getting cancer by 70%.
  • Our bodies make Vitamin D from sunlight hitting our skin, but our ability to do so diminishes four-fold from age 20 to age 70. This is why most people are Vitamin D deficient. This may be the reason so many people break their hips when they fall, have unexplained muscle pain, have heart disease, diabetes or hypertension.
  • For years the “recommended” dose of Vitamin D was 200 iu daily. Today, the recommendations from researchers are in the area of 2000 – 10,000 iu daily. The worse your health is, the more you require.
  • Big Pharma is hard at work on a drug the mimics Vitamin D. When they release it, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a push by Big Pharma to get the government to restrict the potency of natural Vitamin D or they will outlaw it using the guise that it is actually a hormone, not a food.

Further reading material:

“Vitamin D” Research – What and how the world is beginning to learn about the importance of “Vitamin D”

Dr. Weil Interview: Geek Health Issues

The American private health care system

I love the American Private Health Care. My American friends might think I’m crazy but let me explain and compare Australian vs. American private health care as I see it and having experienced both first hand. I wont go into the detail of these plans because it’s never a clean apples to apples comparison but I will compare the cover based on my usage of the plans in both Australia and USA so you can see where the 2 differentiate on a daily basis.

In Australia my wife and I had private insurance for nearly 10 years. We had MBF Healthsmart for couples. MBF stands for Medical Benefits Fund. This plan is meant to cover most health scenarios a young couple might encounter. It basically allows me to visit any specialist, hospital or medical group to get service.

In USA we are covered by HMO from Blue Shield of California. HMO is a Health Maintenance Organization. It is a medical plan that has a network of selected physicians at a modest co-pay. Thus I had to choose a “Medical Foundation” to be my primary source of care. I chose Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) because of a good reputation and of having great specialists from a top-tier USA University, Stanford University. PAMF is a massive group of hospitals spanning the Bay Area. I have 3 of them within 15 minutes drive from Mountain View (my hometown).

PAMF – Palo Alto Medical Foundation

This is the only medical foundation I can visit during the year. That’s the rules of the game with Blue Shield.

Let’s compare the two plans

In Australia (MBF) In USA (HMO Blue Shield)
Dental. I have 2 root canals and in Australia was quoted $1,500 for a crown to protect those teeth. That would end up $3,000 in total and I’d be out-of-pocket by $2,700 after MBF cover. Today, I have 2 crows. Both done in the USA over the last 1.5 years and all it cost me was $300 out-of-pocket.
MBF gave me $300 budget every year on dental. Is that even enough for 1 filling and a clean. HMO gives me $1,500 budget every year on dental. Enough to get a crown, 5 fillings and 2 cleans. Here’s the catch – there is a gap and most dentists will cover this gap hence it costs you nothing out-of -pocket. Find the right dentist!

If you need cosmetic dentistry in San Francisco, Gentry Dentistry clinic may be able to provide you with the treatment or procedure looking for.

General practitioner (GP).
Free. Actually covered by the public health system else it would be a $40 out of pocket fee per visit (as of 2009). Private wouldn’t cover it. Co-pay of $10 per visit. Without the private you would end up paying in the hundreds.
Specialist visits. The Australian public health care system (Medicare) helps with covering some specialist visits to around 30-40% of what you paid. But you still have to visit Medicare, fill out a bunch of papers and wait for an hour to get your money back.
MBF covers 20-30% of specialist visits. Supposedly they would cover 100% if you could find one which is part of the MBF network and complies with MBF gap cover – Good luck with that! lol neither of the specialists my local GP suggested over the last 10 years ever were a part of the MBF network of specialists. HMO co-pay is $10 for “any” physician I see within my network. It doesn’t matter if it’s a geneticist, x-ray, ENT, skin or allergy specialist et al that I see the most I will pay for each visit is $10. Even an “in-house” procedure like Nasal Turbinate Surgery is included in the $10.
Medical supplies (medical prescriptions/drugs)
Prescribed by the GP and/or specialist vary in price and only a very very small number are covered by private. I only ever came across 1, and this I had to file & lodge the claim myself. Asthma inhaler costs around $30 (2009). Most will cost me $10 or $25 if it’s a rare med. Asthma inhaler costs me $10.
Other differences
  • Waiting period of up to 3 months before I can start using the benefits – like wtf!
  • My medical supplies are prescribed on a piece of paper and I have to hand it to the pharmacy of my choice and then wait.
  • No waiting period to use the benefits.
  • All my med supplies are electronically sent to the closest pharmacy (nominated by myself) and they call me a machine calls me to inform me the medical supplies are ready to be picked up. Typically within an hour.

So how can this be true Ernest… I hear you asking. It’s true. But only IF you have private health insurance in the USA. Without it you are a sitting duck in the water. Not only do the private health insurance plans vary in benefits, not all are as good as the one I outlined above. I consider myself lucky and am very thankful for the amazing company I work for to be offered this level of cover and security. Most companies in the bay area are known to offer benefits like private insurance (of varying degree) which helps ensure good ongoing health of the their staff. God bless America and the local health systems such as Westminster Family Dentistry.

My aim with drawing this comparison was to illustrate that private health is all proportional to wherever you are and whatever situation you are in. Having had an active cover in Australia and one here I am able to draw on these conclusions. I hope this was an eye opener and also a myth buster to some of the false views of the American health system.

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