In 2009, an interesting observation regarding Vitamin D and H1N1 Flu took place with Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council. Cannell is a general practitioner, emergency physician and psychiatrist and despite his best efforts to inform the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH) of his findings on Vitamin D and the flu, he has been ignored.
Here we are in 2013, approaching flu season in the United States and who exactly knows that Vitamin D may ward off the flu? Dr. Cannell notified these government agencies in hopes of preventing spread of the disease and research more on the affects of Vitamin D on those with the flu or flu-like illnesses (FLI).
A fellow physician alerted the good doctor of an incident at his long-term care facility that houses people with developmental disabilities after a H1N1 flu outbreak in the Central Wisconsin Center (CWC) that houses 275 clients and 800 staff members. The center has monitored its clients for years for low Vitamin D levels and supplemented patients with Vitamin D.
Two residents tested positive from H1N1, a long-term resident and a child that was recently transferred to the facility. Several staff members contracted H1N1, but not many residents contracted it. What was the difference between the patients and the staff? Vitamin D supplements.
John Cannell, M.D. says, “This is the first hard data that I am aware of concerning H1N1 and vitamin D. It appears vitamin D is incredibly protective against H1N1. Dr. Carlos Camargo at Mass General ran the numbers in an email to me. Even if one excludes 43 staff members who called in sick with influenza, 0.73% of residents were affected, as compared to 7.5% of staff. This 10-fold difference was statistically significant (P<0.001). That is, the chance that this was a chance occurrence is one less than one in a thousand.”
Dr. Cannell shares an office with another family physician. Cannell says he aggressively measures patients Vitamin D levels and they are fully supplied with vitamin D supplements. The other physician does not supplement with Vitamin D and that doctor is seeing 1 - 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness. Another physician, Dr. Ellie Campbell says in her practice she has had zero cases, her patients are universally on 2000–5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50–80 ng/ml.
Cannell feels if the CDC and the NIH would pay attention there could be a good measure of prevention possible for those that are exposed to H1N1 Flu. Critics, however, say Cannell should not recommend vitamin D to prevent influenza until it is proven to do so and that is not yet a proven fact.
What the critics are really saying, says Cannell in his newsletter, is that you should be deficient in vitamin D this winter until science proves being vitamin D sufficient is better than being Vitamin D deficient. This is unethical advice and is not the standard of care. If the good doctor is wrong and Vitamin D does not prevent influenza there is nothing lost and he feels if the deaths of many citizens due to H1N1 happens this is a serious loss. Isn't it better to have an ounce of prevention that isn't going to hurt anyone than a lot of preventable deaths on ones hand.
Please contact congress and senators and ask them to have hearings on vitamin D and H1N1 Flu