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Vitamin C, vitamin D may prevent deadly avian influenza

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Friday Nov 15, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Bad news has been reported in the last couple of days that a new avian influenza H6N1 has infected one woman in Taiwan.  Also in Cambodia, H5N1 influenza infected 24 humans and caused 13 deaths.

What can we do to prevent avian influenza?  Influenza vaccine for newly emerging flu viruses is nowhere to find.   Even if they are available, their efficacy could be in doubt or at least won't be high.   Flu drugs like Tamiflu may be available, but they do not prevent avian flu in the first place.  Those drugs can help shorten the duration of suffering only when they are used earlier enough.

One dietary supplement that can be used to prevent avian influenza is nutritionally known as vitamin C or chemically known as ascorbic acid or its sodium salt called sodium ascorbate, studies suggest.  Studies show that vitamin C can not only prevent avian influenza, but also can shorten the duration of suffering in patients infected with influenza viruses even when it is used at the late stage of avian influenza.

According to news reports released in 2010, a man in Australia named Allan Smith contracted flu and the condition was fatal and doctors were ready to pull him off the life support.  His family demanded the hospital to IV inject a high dose of vitamin C, and the hospital refused to do so arguing that it won't help anything.  The family insisted and hired a lawyer to force the hospital to administer vitamin C.  As a result, vitamin C saved the man's life.

A study most recently published in Immune Network again found evidence suggesting that taking a high dose of vitamin C early enough can prevent avian influenza.

The study led by Yejin Kim from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea and colleagues found that "vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection."

For the study, researchers inoculated influenza virus in both mice that can synthesize vitamin C and mice that can't produce the vitamin.  Mice that can't synthesize vitamin C were vitamin C insufficient and had  a very low level of serum vitamin C, while those that can make a sufficient level of vitamin C.   As a result, of the two groups of mice exposed to flu viruses, vitamin C insufficient mice died out in one week after exposure to the flu virus while vitamin C sufficient mice survived.

The researchers also found that in order to prevent avian influenza, vitamin C should be used in a  high dose and before the infection.  Evidence shows that late use of vitamin C could not stop avian influenza from invading healthy cells and spreading the virus from cells to cells.

The Korean researchers discovered that vitamin C provides the critical protection against in vivo anti-viral immune response against influenza virus by increasing the production of IFN-IL-1α/β .
Studies of animals that can synthesize vitamin C in the liver suggest that a person with 70 kg needs 5 grams of vitamin C daily.   Sick people need even more vitamin C to overcome illnesses. People with a common cold need 30 grams per day.  People with avian influenza need 50 grams per day.

For people suffering an epidemic cold, 100 grams are needed.  For those who cannot take much orally, they may have to consider IV administration of sodium ascorbate solution.  IV injection of 350 mg/kg body weight subdues fever in one day, and the patient recovers within three days.  Vitamin C is considered very safe, and its only side effect associated with a large dose is diarrhea.
Another important dietary supplement that can be used when a deadly avian influenza strikes is vitamin D.   Vitamin D Council reported in a newsletter that two physicians, one in Wisconsin and the other in Georgia, observed that their patients taking high doses of vitamin D did not contract avian influenza like flu during a peak season of a flu outbreak.

Vitamin D is known to boost the innate immune system. It promotes the production of antibacterial peptides that can help kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Do you have sufficient vitamin C and or vitamin D to use when a deadly avian flu strikes? (David Liu, PHD)

Editor's comment:  The opinions in the article are the author's.  Use the information at your own risk.  The Food and drug Administration has never recognized vitamin C and vitamin D as drugs that can be used to prevent or treat avian influenza even though evidence suggests that these vitamins may help or even save people's lives.

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