Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vitamin D deficiency and death from diarrhea—another reason to return to the sunlight

WebMD just posted an article regarding research on vitamin D levels and a particular “superbug,” clostridium difficile or C. diff, which causes severe diarrhea and death.

C. Diff occurs primarily in people who have been taking broad-spectrum antibiotics that kill the friendly bacteria that would keep this superbug under control.

The author noted that 53% of the patients with “normal” levels of vitamin D were able to resolve the infection and then remain free of diarrhea after 30 days. In those with “low” vitamin D levels, only 26% resolved the infection and remained free of diarrhea after 30 days.

The researchers defined low vitamin D levels as 21 ng/ml, which is very low indeed, since a level of 32 is considered the lowest level for good health, and most scientists now recommend levels of about 60 ng/ml as optimal. I’m assuming that “normal” levels were considered to be anything over 21 ng/ml.

Vitamin D has been known for some time to be a potent antibiotic which breaks down the cell walls of both bacteria and viruses. However, it is not a “broad-spectrum” antibiotic—an antibiotic that kills not only the disease-causing pathogens—but also the friendly bacteria in the intestine that work to keep such pathogens at bay. Vitamin D recognizes only the foreign invader (pathogen) that can damage the body. Unfortunately, many pathogens develop resistance to antibiotic drugs, and the drugs cannot then kill the pathogen, which has a heyday because it is unopposed by the friendly bacteria that would normally thwart its action; hence, we have the term “superbug.”

Vitamin D works by stimulating the immune system’s army of cells such as T cells[1] and macrophages[2] to attack and destroy pathogens. There is no research I am aware of indicating that any pathogen develops a resistance to vitamin D. As antibiotics become less and less effective in fighting pathogens, optimal levels of vitamin D may become our last line of defense.

The WebMD article also points out that “Overall, 40% of the patients died during the month." A total of 67% of patients with low vitamin D levels died compared with 44% of those with normal vitamin D levels…” This indicates that the levels considered normal were not normal at all, and probably came nowhere near the optimal levels of 60 ng/ml.

And who is responsible for this loss of life? It is obviously the Powers of Darkness, those organizations that profit from teaching us that we should “protect” ourselves from any contact with sunlight or other sources of natural vitamin D production such as sun lamps. It behooves us to return to the habit of regular, non-burning sunlight exposure, such as sunbathing, preferably around midday. That certainly seems like a terrific alternative to death by diarrhea. Would you agree?

[1] von Essen MR, Kongsbak M, Schjerling P, Olgaard K, Odum N, Geisler C.. Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nat Immunol. 2010;11:344-49 .
[2] Kamen DL, Tangpricha V. Vitamin D and molecular actions on the immune system: modulation of innate and autoimmunity. J Mol Med 2010 May;88(5):441-50.

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