Vitamins and minerals — Immune building blocks
Posted: Wednesday. July 21, 2010
Thousands of medical and nutritional research studies have described the importance of vitamins and minerals in maintenance and stimulation of the immune response. This data goes back many decades. It is also an area of continued progressive study. Facilities all over the world are involved in testing, and producing studies that support the need for optimal nutrition in both human and animal populations.
With the severity of infectious disease, and increases in numbers and kinds of infections, it is a wonder that nutritional information is not discussed daily in all areas of the media.
Simple nutritional evaluation and correction can make all the difference in the world in respect to fighting infection, heart disease and cancers.
The following articles and some from previous newsletters describe how vitamin deficiency harms immune response. And, as well, tells us how important these substances are for maximizing function.
It has always been a crusade of mine to get people tested for vitamin and mineral levels to help maximize the body’s ability to function best in all areas, especially with respect to immune function.
Years worth of studies have also connected typical bacterial and viral infection with heart disease and cancers, so to be able to help change the outcomes of these disorders it has become so much more evident that we need to make ourselves stronger to kill infection early and rapidly.
All people, of all ages should have vitamin and mineral testing done at least once or twice a year to insure nutritional adequacy and density. We can’t rely on foods to give us all of what we really need.
I have tested many thousands of patients for nutrients, and even those with the largest intake, might still be deficient. They might not be taking enough of what they are deficient in to correct levels, or their absorption may be inadequate.
Let the good research be our teacher.
Learn about your body.
Maximize your health.
Dr. Chris Calapai
Impact of vitamin E on immune function and its clinical implications
Vitamin E is a chain-breaking antioxidant that protects membranes from free-radical damage. Evidence suggests significant impact of vitamin E on the modulation of immune functions. Results from animal and human studies indicate that vitamin E deficiency impairs both humoral and cell-mediated immune functions.
Supplementation of vitamin E above the recommended levels has been shown to enhance immune functions and to be associated with increased resistance against several pathogens, especially in the aged. The current vitamin E consumption status from diets, the status of vitamin E supplement use, the effects of vitamin E on different aspects of immune functions and mechanisms of its action and the clinical significance of vitamin E supplementation will be reviewed.
Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review
Vitamin D sufficiency is required for optimal health. The conditions with strong evidence for a protective effect of vitamin D include several bone diseases, muscle weakness, more than a dozen types of internal cancers, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. There is also weaker evidence for several other diseases and conditions. There are good reasons that vitamin D sufficiency be maintained during all stages of life, from fetal development to old age. Adequate calcium intake is also recommended.
The current vitamin D requirements in the United States are based on protection against bone diseases. These guidelines are being revised upward in light of new findings, especially for soft-tissue health. The consensus of scientific understanding appears to be that vitamin D deficiency is reached for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels less than 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L), insufficiency in the range from 20-32 ng/mL, and sufficiency in the range from 33-80 ng/mL, with normal in sunny countries 54-90 ng/mL, and excess greater than 100 ng/mL. Solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiation is the primary source of vitamin D for most people.
In general, the health benefits accruing from moderate UV irradiation, without erythema or excess tanning, greatly outweigh the health risks, with skin pigmentation (melanin) providing much of the protection. In the absence of adequate solar UVB irradiation due to season, latitude, or lifestyle, vitamin D can be obtained from fortified food, oily fish, vitamin D supplements, and artificial sources of UVB radiation.
The Effect of a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement on Infection and Self-Reported Health
Background: Use of multivitamin and mineral supplements iscommon among U.S. adults, yet few well-designed trials haveassessed the reputed benefits.
Objective: To determine the effect of a daily multivitaminand mineral supplement on infection and well-being.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Primary care clinics at two medical centers in NorthCarolina.
Participants: 130 community-dwelling adults stratified by age(45 to 64 years or 65 years) and presence of type 2 diabetesmellitus.
Intervention: Multivitamin and mineral supplement or placebotaken daily for 1 year.
Measurements: Incidence of participant-reported symptoms ofinfection, incidence of infection-associated absenteeism, andscores on the physical and mental health subscales of the MedicalOutcomes Study 12-Item Short Form.
Results: More participants receiving placebo reported an infectiousillness over the study year than did participants receivingmultivitamin and mineral supplements (73% vs. 43%; P < 0.001).Infection-related absenteeism was also higher in the placebogroup than in the results group (57% vs. 21%; P < 0.001).Participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus (n = 51) accountedfor this finding. Among diabetic participants receiving placebo,93% reported an infection compared with 17% of those receivingsupplements (P < 0.001). Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item ShortForm scores did not differ between the results and placebogroups.
Conclusions: A multivitamin and mineral supplement reducedthe incidence of participant-reported infection and relatedabsenteeism in a sample of participants with type 2 diabetesmellitus and a high prevalence of subclinical micronutrientdeficiency. A larger clinical trial is needed to determine whetherthese findings can be replicated not only in diabetic personsbut also in any population with a high rate of suboptimal nutritionor potential underlying disease impairment.
Vitamin C concentrations in the plasma and leukocytes rapidly decline during infections and stress. Supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation, chemotaxis, and delayed-type hypersensitivity.
Vitamin C contributes to maintaining the redox integrity of cells and thereby protects them against reactive oxygen species generated during the respiratory burst and in the inflammatory response. Likewise, zinc undernutrition or deficiency was shown to impair cellular mediators of innate immunity such as phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, and the generation of oxidative burst. Therefore, both nutrients play important roles in immune function and the modulation of host resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases.
This is of special importance in populations in which insufficient intake of these nutrients is prevalent. In the developing world, this is the case in low- and middle-income countries, but also in subpopulations in industrialized countries, e.g. in the elderly. A large number of randomized controlled intervention trials with intakes of up to 1 g of vitamin C and up to 30 mg of zinc are available. These trials document that adequate intakes of vitamin C and zinc ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold.
Furthermore, vitamin C and zinc reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea infections, especially in children in developing countries.