I dont understand people who view food as medicine.
Well, I mean, I guess I do. Theyre terrified of disease X/Y/Z (even if X/Y/Z is treatable/preventable with modern medicine), and they think a component of food helps treat/prevent disease X/Y/Z, so they religiously eat said food.
So I guess I mean to say “People who view food as medicine are being silly.”
Obviously, consuming food and getting proper nutrition is important. If you dont get enough Vitamin C, you get scurvy. Dont get enough iron, you get anemia. Dont get enough folic acid, your child is at risk for birth defects. Dont get enough Vitamin D, you get rickets.
But people seem to think that “If not enough is bad… and having enough is good… getting SUPER MEGA ULTRA DOSES of _____ will turn me into SUPERMAN!!!!”
Why the hell do I care?
Because of crap like this:
(Mike Adams, for those of you who dont know him)
Here is what I want to make 100% clear, right up front. This is the one thing you need to take away from this post:
The role of Vitamin D in infections (viral or bacterial), is still up in the air. There is no reason why you should currently favor Vitamin D supplements over your annual flu shot, especially if you are in an at-risk population. Maybe in 10 years we will know ‘yea’ or ‘nay’, but we do NOT right now. Get your flu shot. –ERV
The kind of Vitamin D your body uses is not the kind of Vitamin D you eat. Your body takes the Vitamin D you eat and turns it into the kind of Vitamin D you can use, usually via an enzyme in your kidneys.
What does this have to do with your immune system?
We can also make some immune cells produce usable Vitamin D in the lab. We do not know much about how/when/if this happens during in infections, and whether that is a side-effect of infection, or part of the pathogens strategery, or part of our immune systems strategery to get rid of the pathogen.
We also know that the amount of usable Vitamin D you have floating around has an effect on your immune system… and its not the effect you might be thinking if you read that Adams article. Vitamin D has historically had a calming effect on the immune system. Its not something that tells your immune cells to rev up and get ready for a fight.
(paragraph edited 9/29/10 for clarity) In both cell culture and small animal models, numerous laboratories have found that Vitamin D has a calming effect on the immune system. Active Vitamin D helps tell your immune system to stfu by (I believe indirectly) interfering with Th1, Th2, and Th17 immune responses, and encouraging Treg development (Tregs are the ultimate immune system buzz-kill). Furthermore, small animal models of genetic immune diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, etc) support the ‘Vitamin D is calming’ hypothesis, both biochemically and physiologically. While deficiencies in Vitamin D are associated with human immune disorders, it has yet to translate into useful therapeutic or preventative treatments.
What does this mean in the pathology of infectious diseases?
If you totally knock out the gene that makes the enzyme that turns Vitamin D into usable Vitamin D in mice, OR you supplement mice with lots of Vitamin D, and then infect them with bacteria and viruses and such… pretty much nothing happens. Mice get sick and then they get better, apparently irrespective of Vitamin D. Sometimes no Vitamin D metabolism makes things better. Sometimes Vitamin D supplementation makes things worse. Its all kinda up in the air. Certainly nothing cut and dry like ‘VITAMIN D CURES FLOO!!!’
So what about the study claiming Vitamin D supplementation was better than a flu shot?
Well, its a paper. Definitely neat and novel. But one paper isnt the be-all-end-all. Other labs need to replicate it, but make their studies better– larger, more controls, dose/response, there are a ton of further avenues of research. But a Very Important Person in influenza hasnt been able to replicate those findings in a controlled, small-animal, laboratory setting.
We just dont know for sure yet.
We do know, however, that vaccinations work.
We also know that some people genuinely do have Vitamin D deficiencies. If you think you are one of these people, you can go to your physician/PA/nurse, get a simple blood test done, and know in about a week. You can then get prescription grade Vitamin D to take until your blood tests come back normal. This is not a big deal at all– Mom just had this done. She didnt ‘guess’ she had a Vitamin D deficiency because she got two colds last winter, and treat herself with holistic natural organic Vitamin D she bought on the internet. She went to the goddamn doctor like a grown up.
Furthermore, we also know what happens if you overdose on Vitamin D, because you dont believe in that hoity-toity ‘medicine’ crap. Want to know what happens when you over supplement with vitamins? Go ask Gary Null.
Dont treat food like medicine.