Update on Corona virus

August 26, 2020

Since the last newsletter from May 28, things have gone well here in Denmark.
On the other hand, viruses have become widespread, especially in those countries that have not taken the spreading of infection seriously.
In the past month, however, localized infection clusters have emerged in various places here in Denmark as well, especially in immigrant communities.
The reasons for this have been mentioned in the previous newsletters, whose advice is still valid, so I will not repeat it here, but instead focus on what has happened in the last 3 months.

Studies
In a literature study(1) from Norwegian, Russian and Swedish public health institutes six researchers have concluded that early intervention with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin-D can alleviate the course of the disease, and virtually prevent the cytokine storm, which is the process responsible for the destruction of tissues, microthromboses, inflammation, etc. -the whole cascade that can take the life of the Covid-19 sick persons.

An almost simultaneous study(2) from Germany analyzed Serum-Selenium and Serum-Selenoprotein P, and both values were significantly lower in those who did not survive Covid-19.
(Selenium: 53.3 ± 16.2 vs. 40.8 ± 8.1 μg / l, Selenoprotein-P: 3.3 ± 1.3 vs. 2.1 ± 0.9 mg / L p<0.001). These results must be said to be highly relevant in our country, where we consume so little selenium. This study falls nicely in line with the former study.

On August 3, an article was published in the Lancet(3) which strongly calls for increased intake of vitamin D based on solid literature reviews.
This also falls in line with the first study mentioned above.

And, finally, there is a meta-analysis(4) of the role of vitamin D in the development of acute respiratory infection. It includes 30,000 people in controlled trials (RCTs), and has shown significantly reduced risk of acute respiratory infection already at 10-25 µg of vitamin D daily.
This confirms a previous meta-analysis(5), which also found a significant inverse correlation between the risk of acute respiratory infection and the vitamin D content in the blood.
All of the above studies are nicely in line with the advice mentioned in the five newsletters from May.

Authorities distribute vitamins
Azerbaijan has registered 35,000 Covid-19 cases in a population of 10 million. Of these, 1,800 were hospitalized and 508 died.
Here, the Ministry of Health has provided more than 3,500 Covid-19 patients with a free “medicine package” containing: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc and Paracetamol.
The idea is then that the patients stay at home and treat themselves there.
Every day they are then contacted by the local hospital clinic and have to answer a series of questions, just as the doctor checks that they are taking their pills.
So far, a significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations in this group has been observed(6).

You can only shout cheers when you see authorities who can think outside the box and dare to start such a project. My guess is that the trend will continue and that home treatment will continue to reduce hospital admissions in Azerbaijan.

The idea is not bad because you initiate a completely harmless treatment of a, for some people, -dangerous disease.
But why wait until they get sick?

With timely care, one can improve the immune system of the entire population if one simply provides information about these supplements and their significance.

What could be done here in Denmark is to provide subsidies to the vulnerable groups, especially residents of the country’s nursing homes, who are completely dependent on the public perception of vitamins and minerals. If their own doctor does not prescribe a vitamin supplement, then residents are often denied help to get the supplements, despite their own desire. They are completely dependent upon the doctor’s knowledge or lack thereof. I think Danish authorities and medical staff would be shocked if we measured the level of vitamin D in the country’s nursing home residents.
If you do not want to use public funds to donate these subsidies to the residents, then you can at least make sure that both residents and their relatives are informed.

These newsletters on Covid-19 are unfortunately necessary as this knowledge and the scientific back-up are neglected in the public advice to the Danish population.

Take care of yourself and others

Claus Hancke MD
Specialist in general medicine

References

  1. Alexander J, Alehagen U et al. (2020) Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2358.
  2. Moghaddam A, Heller R et al. (2020) Selenium Deficiency Is Associated with Mortality Risk from COVID-19. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2098.
  3. Martineau A, Forouhi N (2020) Vitamin-D for Covid-19: a case to answer. Lancet 2020;8:735-6.
  4. Joliffe D, Martineau A, Damsgaard Camilla et al. (2020) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. medRxiv BMJ (endnu ikke peer reviewed) 17.juli 2020.
  5. Martineau A et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.
    BMJ 2017;356:i6585.
  6. lmahamad A, (2020) 3.500 covid-19 patients provided with free medication. Azernews 18.august 2020. https://www.azernews.az/healthcare/168099.html

Be prepared for the next Corona epidemic

The population is not

May 29, 2020

The Corona is spreading more slowly now, and, here in Denmark, Covid-19 is gradually infecting fewer and fewer people and we are more aware of protecting ourselves against it.

There have been good effects from keeping our distance and from maintaining good hygiene in which we have all been well instructed.

Much to the surprise of the Danish Serum Institute, less than 2% of the Danish population has had the disease, and only a few of these individuals may have obtained immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which the virus is called.
This means that more than 98% have not been infected and are completely without immunity. So forget about herd immunity.

The Danish population is just as vulnerable it was were in March when it all started.

Let’s try to summarize what we know and what we can do about it.

What do we know now?
SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus responsible for the current Covid-19 pandemic, is characterized in that it – like the influenza virus – triggers a reaction with the release of a number of signaling molecules such as interleukins, interferons, and lymphokines.

When this release is powerful, it is called a “cytokine storm”, and with Covid-19, it is so powerful that immune cells begin to damage the tissues where the process is taking place, and, in this case, it is primarily the lung tissue that is damaged.

During the cytokine storm, a violent inflammatory response and increased release of free oxygen radicals are created, which further damages the lung tissue due to the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. Adding too much oxygen at this stage will only aggravate the situation, which several anesthesiologists have experienced when Covid-19 patients’ conditions worsen when they are put on a respirator.

What can we do about it
Thus, it is primarily about attenuating the fatal cytokine storm.
Here vitamin D, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin C are particularly important as they specifically inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation in the pulmonary vessels.
If the level of these essential substances in the body is high enough then you will have a subdued cytokine storm and thus attenuated symptoms, as seen during influenza infection. Fresh extract of Coneflower (Echinacea) has also been documented in several scientific studies to effectively inhibit this cytokine storm.

It should be obvious to protect ourselves by promoting such harmless and inexpensive remedies, but unfortunately in the medical and pharmaceutical world, one tends to stare blindly at the most expensive solutions.
Medical professionals were first intrigued by the antiviral drug Remdesivir, which could shorten the disease period of Covid-19 from 15 to 11 days. This fascination has now been replaced by a new one, another drug, an experimental cancer drug, Bemcentinib that may prevent viruses from entering the cells. A phase II trial is underway for 120 people, and we hope we will be able to get the result in a few months.

Well, it is excellent that medical professionals try to find a medicine that can help in this situation, but is it absolutely necessary to find a new, expensive medicine with side effects, when there are other far cheaper options without side effects?

The long awaited vaccine
While all this is going on, the pharmaceutical industry is working full speed on a vaccine. A vaccine against an RNA virus is very difficult to make, and using a vaccine is especially problematic because viruses constantly mutate and thereby often change the immune response.

No vaccine has ever been safety-tested, in the same way that medicine is tested, and this is a bit problematic because in recent years, the industry has started to add substances whose purpose is to stimulate the immune system for effective antibody formation. And stimulating antibody formation is good enough, too, but the safety of these substances has never been investigated. In Denmark, the use of mercury (thimerosal or thiomersal) in childhood vaccines was stopped from 1992 and in influenza vaccines from 2004, with the exception of the vaccine in 2009, which was an embarrassing exception. The toxic mercury should never be used again for human use – neither in the teeth, for that matter.

But in recent years aluminum has been added in the form of nanoparticles as well as squalene emulsions. These adjuvants have not been safety tested. It has just been noted (WHO has noted) that the number of side effects is not greater than is usually seen with vaccination. Aluminum is a neurotoxin, but it has been used in vaccines in the form of various aluminum salts since 1930, so in that form it probably isn’t particularly harmful. The problem is that nanoparticles are now being used that cannot be stopped by a cell membrane. They can penetrate all tissues.
It cannot be ruled out that it is safe to use these additives. It’s just never been investigated.

It should be a simple task to make a study with each of these ingredients against a real placebo such as brine.
We have many excellent vaccines, so let’s not be vaccine deniers. Let’s welcome a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when it arrives, and then just hope it is properly safety tested. Of course, this hope becomes a requirement if we are to be mandatory vaccinated.

Of course, the Coronavirus will return
When and how bad we do not know, but it will come.
As mentioned in the Vitamin C newsletter, one of Europe’s experts in Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten from the University of Berlin, has stated that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.
And since more than 98% of the Danish population is without immunity against it, we should not sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine.

We need to be proactive.
We need to make sure that we have enough of the nutrients that can reduce the risk of our getting sick, and especially the nutrients that can dampen the cytokine storms, so that we get a mild course of illness if we get sick anyway.

Especially old people and people who eat only very little, who may also be weakened by chronic disease, will do well by supplementing the diet in order to be well equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

An appropriate daily dose for a normal-weight adult will typically be:

  • Vitamin A: 1-2 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 4-5 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2-3,000 mg
  • Vitamin D3: 75-100 µg
  • Selenium: 100-200 µg
  • Zinc: 20-30 mg
  • Magnesium: 200-300 mg

Note: The low dose is for those weighing less than 70 kg (155 pounds / 11 stones).

If you start now, you will be prepared in the fall. This is an obvious strategy for the country’s nursing homes.

This is the fifth and final Covid-19 newsletter.

Unfortunately, the five newsletters are necessary as this knowledge and scientific back-up are neglected in the public counseling of the population.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • McGonagle D et al. (2020) Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Zhang Y, Leung D, Richers B, et al. (2012) Vitamin D Inhibits Monocyte/Macrophage Proinflammatory Cytokine Production by Targeting MAPK Phosphatase-1. Journal of Immunology. 2012;188(5):2127-2135.
  • Alberto Boretti, Bimal Krishna Banik (2020) Intravenous vitamin C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome PharmaNutrition.
    2020 Jun;12:100190. Published online 2020 Apr 21.
  • Sharma M, Anderson A et al.(2009) Induction of multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines by respiratory viruses and reversal by standardized Echinacea, a potent antiviral herbal extract. Antiviral Research, 2009;83(2):165-170.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza.
    Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533
  • Hemilä H (2003) Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 52, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 1049–1050
  • WHO Global advisory committee on vaccine safety 2020 (ikke ændret siden 2006). https://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/adjuvants/squalene/Jun_2006/en/

A second wave of Corona epidemic is coming

That is why we need to be prepared

May 20, 2020

The Corona virus will return. Of course it will.

When and how bad it will be, we do not know, but it will come.

Curiously enough, most people expect the second wave this fall – what we are not being told is that this is because the population’s vitamin D level again will be low at that time that we also call the “flu season”.

One of Europe’s experts capabilities on Covid-19, Professor Christian Drosten of the Charité Institute at the University of Berlin, even thinks that the second wave could be tougher than the current one.

But should we then sit with our hands in our laps and wait for a vaccine?’
No, no and again no.

We must, of course, do everything we can to boost every Dane’s immune system so that we are “armed to the teeth” and can prevent a severe epidemic.

Well, isn’t it precisely an overreaction of the immune system (a cytokine storm) that kills lung patients? Yes. If they are vitamin-depleted, then it will happen.

However, several of the vitamins and minerals I have mentioned will specifically inhibit this cytokine storm from the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which releases the inflammatory cytokines. Here, vitamin D and magnesium, selenium and the antioxidant vitamins are particularly important as they inhibit this cytokine storm and the subsequent inflammatory microcoagulation seen in the pulmonary vessels. It was described a week ago thoroughly in the Lancet by Prof. Dennis McGonagle and colleagues. They describe how there is actually inflammatory coagulation in the pulmonary vessels, rather than a pneumonia. Of course, this causes oxygen deficiency and such coagulation cannot be treated with a respirator. McGonagle and colleagues call it a diffuse alveolar and pulmonary interstitial inflammation in COVID-19 resulting in a macrophage activation that triggers extensive immunothrombosis.

Thus, according to this article, it is an inflammation-triggered immune response that leads to microcoagulation in the lungs, and that is what Covid-19 patients die from. This is interesting because this reaction can be dampened by vitamin D, selenium, magnesium and vitamin C.

Some of these substances have direct antiviral properties. We see this confirmed in the few scientific studies that are already published, as mentioned in the previous newsletters. The higher the level of intake (within a safe limit), the lower the mortality rate. Therefore, it is important to have high enough vitamin / mineral content for the immune system to be so effective that it will not cause severe lung disease. The more effectively we can prevent disease, the less we need treatment. The previous three newsletters have dealt with Vitamin D, Selenium and Zinc. Now we come to one of the cornerstones of human survival, namely Vitamin C. It is also called “ascorbic acid” after “a-scorbut”, ie against scurvy.

In the past, just as with other vitamins, these were believed to only protect against a deficiency of that vitamin. Thus, it was believed that vitamin C merely protected against scurvy, ie vitamin C deficiency.

However, the past 60-70 years of research have shown that vitamins (and certain minerals) have completely different and quite potent therapeutic properties when dosed accordingly.

Vitamin C is essential for our immune system, which has been documented in over 1,000 scientific articles. Finding evidence is not difficult. Rather, one must know how to limit oneself when searching.

Some of these articles are listed in the literature list. I have included a few old ones for historical reasons. After all, it is interesting that Frederick Klenner with high-dose vitamin C cured children from active polio, while here in Denmark we put them in iron lungs (the respirator of that time), while letting the virus rage in the body. Klenner killed the virus.

Another classic is Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling’s classic “The common cold …”, which created a great debate for and against.
Since that time, the scientific evidence has been well established and unanimously shows that vitamin C is essential for a well-functioning immune system.

Vitamin C has many extraordinary properties in that it can not only prevent disease but also be used in disease treatment.

If we are to concentrate on the current Covid-19 pandemic, then several serious studies around the world are using ascorbic acid intravenously to treat severe Covid-19 disease.

Contrary to the often heard mantra, “we have no treatment to offer Covid-19 patients”.

Well, we have.

It is true, however, that there are no gold standard randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in reputable, peer-reviewed, medical journals. But come-on.

This is a completely harmless treatment with an extremely cheap, natural vitamin for a potentially fatal disease.

If the seriously ill Covid-19 patients have to wait for the above publication, then they will be dead. Why not try it when it can never hurt them? If doctors are nervous about the legal aspect, use Article 37 of the Helsinki Declaration on compassionate care. Here, the doctor’s judgment applies.

The theoretical basis for the antiviral effect of vitamin C is present, along with a second-to-none safety track record. There is even more than 70 years of clinical experience from doctors who have used ascorbic acid for a variety of diseases, including severe viral infections. In addition, a large number of scientific studies, which more than indicate that Vitamin C has a place in the treatment of viral infections.

The least that could be done was to do a pilot study with 10 patients hospitalized with severe Covid-19 disease and compare with 10 who did not receive vitamin C. All 20 patients would receive the standard treatment available today.
Then you can compare mortality, hospitalization time, and recovery time.
The study can be completed in a month within a general medical department’s budget. It can hardly be more simple.

But that is perhaps the problem.

The first four newsletters have dealt with optimization of the immune system using vitamin D, Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C.

The next newsletter will summarize our knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic and conclude with a comprehensive overview of what you can take if you want to be highly equipped with an optimally functioning immune system as the next virus threat approaches.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs.

  • Alberto Boretti, Bimal Krishna Banik (2020) Intravenous vitamin C for reduction of cytokines storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome PharmaNutrition. 2020 Jun;12:100190.  Published online 2020 Apr 21.
  • Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza. Virol J. 2008;5:29.
  • Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients 2017;9(11):1211.
  • Chambial S et al (2013) Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013 Oct; 28(4): 314–328.
  • Gerber, WF (1975) Effect of ascorbic acid, sodium salicylate and caffeine on the serum interferon level in response to viral infection. Pharmacology, 13: 228
  • Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Duconge J (2018) High dose vitamin C and influenza: A case report.  J Orthomol Med. June, 2018, 33(3).
  • Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533
  • Hemilä H (2003) Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 52, Issue 6, December 2003, Pages 1049–1050
  • Hunt C et al. The clinical effects of Vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1994;64:212-19.
  • Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P (1983) Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in old people. Gerontology. 29:305-310.
  • Klenner F 1949, Southern Medicine & Surgery, Volume 111, Number 7, July, 1949, pp. 209-214
  • Li W1, Maeda N, Beck MA. (2006) Vitamin C deficiency increases the lung pathology of influenza virus-infected gulo-/- mice, J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2611-6.
  • McGonagle D et al, 2020, Immune mechanisms of pulmonary intravascular coagulopathy in COVID-19 pneumonia. Lancet May 7, 2020:1-9
  • Pauling L (1971) Vitamin C and the common cold Can Med Assoc J. 1971 Sep 4; 105(5): 448, 450.
  • Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH (2006) Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab. 50:85-94.
  • Yejin Kim, Hyemin Kim, Seyeon Bae et al. (2013) Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.

Zinc is important for the immune system

– also for Covid-19 disease

May 18 2020

In continuation of the previous two newsletters on Vitamin D and Selenium, a little important information about Zinc and its importance to the immune system is now presented here.

In these corona times, it is especially necessary that we each optimize our immune system so that we are well prepared for a possible new wave in about half a year from now, when people’s deposits of vitamin D again are declining.

In the Western part of the world, about 25% of the population has some level of zinc deficiency, especially the elderly, people with high alcohol consumption, people with chronic infections, those who get certain types of medicine, and elite athletes, who use up their magnesium and zinc.

Zinc is part of more than 200 different enzyme systems and is a prerequisite for normal growth and cell formation and a well-functioning immune system.

There is solid evidence that zinc deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infection. Since zinc supplementation has also been found to reduce the duration of a cold, various zinc lozenges have been tried, and a Cochrane study of 18 studies found that 75 mg of zinc a day could reduce the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people, provided the zinc tablets were given within the first 24 hours after symptom onset.

The effect lies, among other things, in the skin and mucous membranes, where zinc is necessary for the cell replication that the body initiates when an infection is to be fought. This is especially true regarding the growth, maturation and differentiation of circulating lymphocytes, T cells and the killer cells, NK cells that we need to fight viruses.

In 2010, an in vitro study showed that zinc inhibits another coronavirus, namely SARS-CoV, which caused an epidemic in 2002. Zinc has a direct antiviral effect by inhibiting SARS-CoV RNA polymerase, which is a prerequisite for virus replication.

There is no specific study yet on the effect of zinc on the current CoV-Sars-2, but natural connections are looked for and, for example, the current Covid-19 disease is characterized by many people’s losing the sense of taste and smell, which is also seen in the case of zinc deficiency.
But it could be coincidence.

We have to take zinc all the time, as it is not stored specifically. It is not difficult to get enough zinc here in Denmark, just by eating real food and not industrial synthetic ‘plastic’ food. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, organ meat, fish, eggs, legumes, cereals, dairy products, green vegetables, fruits and berries. An intake of 20-30 mg per day is enough.

If you take zinc as a supplement, remember that it can reduce the copper content of the body, as zinc will upregulate the metallothionein synthesis, which can cause copper loss. This is probably not of great importance here in Denmark, where a large pig production has given us all a solid copper supplement.

In any case, we need zinc to optimize our immune system, so we are ready to fight an virus infection.

Now you have read about vitamin D, selenium and zinc in relation to the immune system.
The next newsletter to arm your immune system against Covid-19 will be about Vitamin C.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke, MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Read Scott A, Obeid S et al. The role of Zinc in antiviral immunity.(2019) Adv Nutr 2019;10:696–710
  • Skalny et al: Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for Covid-19. Int J Molecular Med. April 13, 2020
  • Mossad S, Macknin M, Mendendorp S, et al. Zinc Gluconate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Annals of Internal Medicine 15 July 1996
  • Velthuis AJW, van den Worm SHE, Sims AC, Baric RS, Snijder EJ, van Hemert MJ (2010). Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture. PLoS Pathog 6(11): e1001176.
  • Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: The biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68 (2 Suppl): 447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S.
  • Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4
  • Yoshimura A, Naka T, Kubo M. SOCS proteins, cytokine signalling and immune regulation. Nat Rev Immunol 2007;7(6):454–65.

Selenium attenuates Covid-19 disease

But we don’t hear about it

May 11, 2020

At this time, new research is emerging, newly published, especially about SARS-CoV-2, which has shut down the world with its follow-up Covid-19. This disease specifically affects the lungs, which is why people with lung disease are at special risk of serious illness.

One of the world’s most respected selenium researchers, Margaret Rayman, together with a team of researchers, has just published an important letter in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition that shows a significantly (P <0.0001) higher cure rate for Covid-19 patients with higher selenium levels in the body.

An interesting study from 2004 (Beck) showed that if a virus like corona passes through a host animal with selenium deficiency, the viral virulence will increase. The host animal lacks selenium to produce glutathione peroxidase for its own protection, thus allowing the virus to mutate freely to a more virulent form. Such selenium-deficient host animals are found in large selenium-poor areas of China, and could, for example, be a bat, or more likely a civet, which is a Chinese cat-like animal resembling a mongoose a little bit. It is eminent for adapting to urban environments and can be a nuisance near human housing where the cats’ excrements make a mess and carry diseases – especially if the animals lack selenium.

Rayman mentions a number of diseases that are improved by optimizing selenium supplementation via the immunomodulatory effect of selenium, in particular selenium’s ability to attenuate the virus’s ability to mutate in a more virulent direction.

Along with the above zoological observation, this led Rayman and colleagues to assume that selenium status and Covid-19 disease had a relationship, and they wanted to find it.

In a retrospective population-based analysis, daily reports (from a credible, non-governmental source) were collected from each province, municipality and city on confirmed cases, cured and deceased Covid-19 patients.

From previous studies, data on selenium levels in individual small districts were reported as selenium concentration in hair. Hair selenium concentrations have shown strong correlation with selenium intake in the different Chinese districts.

By the term “cured” is meant more than three days of fever-free lung function and lung symptoms clearly improved pulmonary x-ray or scan normal, and negative immunological test for the lung pathogen in question in two subsequent tests at least one day apart.

The recovery was significantly lower in Hubei Province (13.2%) compared to all other provinces (40.6%), and mortality in Hubei Province higher (3% – sick) than in all other provinces (0.6 %). Both differences are highly significant (P <0.0001).

However, one of the cities of Hubei Province showed remarkably higher recovery rates than the rest of the cities of Hubei, and it was Enshi (36.4%), which is known for high selenium intake and high selenium status.
The reason China is so thoroughly researched for selenium, is because there are areas in China with both the world’s lowest – and the world’s highest occurrences of selenium in the soil and in the food.

An area of very low selenium status is Keshan in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. We know Keshan disease, which is a cardiomyopathy / heart failure due to selenium deficiency. In Keshan, the mortality rate was 2.4% compared to the other province’s 0.5%.

The Rayman study has significant weaknesses in confounding factors and the use of old selenium data. It was also published as a “facilitator” so that the news can come out as quickly as possible at a time when any whistleblow is welcome and every stone must be turned over.
The Vitality Council has emphasized that the research does come from a serious researcher, Margaret Rayman.

Furthermore, when we can link her new data with a large number of heavy scientific studies, all of which point to selenium as a key ingredient in our immune system, the Vitality Council will conclude that selenium is necessary to optimize our immune system, so we won’t get so sick from Covid-19.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke; MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Rayman Margaret et al, 2020, Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China Am J Clin Nutr 2020; 00: 1–3
  • Beck MA, Handy J, Levander OA. Host nutritional status: The neglected virulence factor. Trends Microbiol 2004; 12: 417–23.
  • Rayman Margaret. Selenium and human health. Lancet 2012; 379: 1256–68.
  • Harthill M. 2011, Micronutrient selenium deficiency influences evolution of some viral infectious diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec; 143 (3): 1325-36.
  • Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities.
    Antiox Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1; 16 (7): 705-43.
  • Beck MA, Nelson HK, Shi Q, Van Dael P, Schiffrin EJ, Blum S, Barclay D, Levander OA. Selenium deficiency increases the pathology of an influenza virus infection. FASEB J. 2001 Jun; 15 (8): 1481-3.
  • Steinbrenner H et al. 2015, Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections. Adv Nutr 2015; 6: 73–82.

Severe Covid-19 disease can be prevented

But we don’t hear about it.

May 6, 2020

“Immunity! Well, that comes naturally.”
Does it?

Now we are so far into the corona crisis that the first serious scientific results are beginning to emerge, and since no one else does, the Vitality Council will try to disseminate these results.
“Just throw people into the water. They will swim by themselves ”.
A foolish claim. It is well known that the chances of surviving a dive into the water increases if you have learned to swim.
But that is, in fact, what the (Danish) authorities are saying, now that they are opening up the country while coronavirus is still circulating.
They are throwing people into increased viral exposure because then it is thought that people automatically get built-up immunity.
Well, this may be true if people can defend themselves, that is, have a well-functioning immune system.
Without good immune defence, people have no chance.

The (Danish) authorities  know very well that there are large groups in the population that have a impaired immune system. And yet, they expect us all to sit with our hands in our lap without doing anything while we wait for a vaccine that stands as an angel of salvation on the horizon.
A vaccine may be excellent, but firstly, it takes at least a year before we have it, and secondly, a vaccine can never keep up with a virus in the many mutations that make its immune profile so varied that a vaccine quickly becomes obsolete as we have seen with the flu vaccine.
The only thing that can keep up with an adequate immune response against a virus’ mutations is a well-functioning immune system in the individual.
Despite the knowledge that many people have an impaired immune system, we have in the months that the corona crisis has lasted, not once heard the (Danish) authorities give the public advice on how to optimize the immune system.
If the population has a fundamentally strong immune system, then a virus will do less harm as the individual course of disease will be milder.
People still get infected and maybe sick too, but they don’t have to die from it.

Let’s start with the simple, Vitamin D3.

It is quite evident that the Covid-19 disease is massively over-represented in the northern hemisphere. Just like the annual flu epidemic, which ravages the northern hemisphere in precisely December to March, whereas it ravages the southern hemisphere from August to October – and why is that?
We can thank the Sun for that. It is high in the sky in the summer and charges our stores of vitamin D, so we have a strong immune system from June to November, and of course the other way around in the southern hemisphere. We never get the flu in July-August.

A second indication is that elderly people are at particular risk. Older people more often have a very low level of vitamin D in their blood, as they do not get much out in the sun.

A third indication is that obesity is at particular risk. Vitamin D accumulates in the adipose tissue, where it does not benefit the immune system. Overweight people must therefore have a significantly higher dose of vitamin D to achieve the same blood concentration as slim persons.

A fourth indication is that the disease is over-represented in immigrants, who often have severe vitamin D deficiency. On the one hand, most immigrants have dark skin, which allows less passage of sunlight, and on the other hand, many immigrant women are covered, even in the summer, when they need to get their annual vitamin D dose.

A fifth indication is that diabetics are also a special risk group. On the one hand, diabetics often have an impaired immune system, and, on the other, many diabetics receive cholesterol-lowering medication. If people lack cholesterol, you cannot produce vitamin D, even though the sun is shining sufficiently.

A sixth indication is approaching evidence in the case of a recently published observational study that compared mean vitamin D levels in 20 European countries with prevalence and mortality caused by Covid-19. There was significant negative correlation between vitamin D level and both prevalence and mortality. It was interesting to see that both morbidity and mortality approached 0 in those populations where the vitamin D level was above 75 nmol/L.
Vitamin D levels are seriously low in the aging population, especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of the population in relation to Covid-19.

A healthy diet with green vegetables is also important, as they contain magnesium, which is a prerequisite for activating vitamin D.
Magnesium is included four places in the synthesis as well as the activation and deactivation of vitamin D, so without magnesium, vitamin D is ineffective.

If you combine these indices with solid evidence that vitamin D3 is essential for a functioning immune system, it is not far off to propose a solid dose of vitamin D3 to optimize a suffering immune system in immigrants, diabetics, older and overweight people in particular.

In the past, people were nervous about overdosing on Vitamin D, but this has proved unfounded. Extremely high doses need to be taken over a long period of time before there is any risk. In the past, it was also thought that a vitamin D level of 50 nmol/L was sufficient in the blood, but this is too low.
If people want to be sure that the vitamin D level is sufficient for an optimal immune system, the level should be between 75 – 150 nmol/L.

This newsletter is the first about some of the factors in our environment, nature, surroundings and diet that can optimize our immune system and thus reduce the risk of serious Covid-19 disease.
The next will deal with the latest research on selenium and Covid-19 disease.

Take care of yourself and others,

Claus Hancke; MD,
Specialist in general medicine

Refs:

  • Hewison M. Vitamin D and innate and adaptive immunity. Vitam Horm, 2011; vol 86:23-62.
  • Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1).
  • Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):96-108.
  • Dancer RC, Parekh D, Lax S, D’Souza V, Zheng S1, Bassford CR, et al. Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Thorax. 2015 Jul;70(7):617-24.
  • Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60.
  • Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, Landry ML. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS One. 2010 Jun 14;5(6):e11088.
  • Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189.
  • Valint S. Vitamin D and Obesity. Nutrients. 2013 Mar; 5(3): 949–956.
  • McCartney DM, Byrne DG. Optimisation of Vitamin D Status for Enhanced Immuno-protection Against Covid-19. Ir Med J. 2020 Apr 3;113(4):58.
  • Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, Baggerly CA, French CB, Aliano JL, Bhattoa HP. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4). pii: E988.
  • Aldridge RA, Lewer D, Beale S, et al. Seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-0C43, and HCoV-229E): results from the Flu Watch cohort study 30 March 2020.
  • McCullough PJ, Lehrer DS, Amend J. Daily oral dosing of vitamin D3 using 5000 TO 50,000 international units a day in long-term hospitalized patients: Insights from a seven year experience. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2019 May;189:228-239.
  • Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019, infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental research (https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8) Springer Switzerland. 2020 May 6.

New Theory on the origin of the flu

November 15, 2005

A recent theory claims that one does not catch the flu from contagious people, but by the activation of a dormant virus activated by vitamin D deficiency.

Serious medical journals do not often engage themselves with what private individuals think. In the latest issue of “The British Medical Journal” an exception is made on the journal’s last page, which is written regularly by the pretty named but anonymous female doctor, “Minerva.” Minerva has given her readers interesting scientific news, great and small, every week for decades.

This time she has pointed out a “blog” (an internet forum) with a gripping story on the virtues of vitamin D and why the flu sets in during the winter. She relates that the blog’s author is a member of “The vitamin D council,” a non-profit organisation which wishes to combat vitamin D deficiency.

Minerva recounts that he may be just another person who has hopped aboard the flu bandwagon. But could he possibly have found something important?

The blog is written by the Californian Dr. John Cannell. He explains, including many citations, first and foremost his theory about how the flu arises. The theory states that the flu is not so much the result of contagion, but more the activation of a dormant virus which we already have in our bodies. This virus can be activated and cause the flu when we are weakened by vitamin D deficiency during the winter. It is similar to the mechanisms behind cold sores, where the virus is dormant but can be activated causing a break out.

Does this sound like nonsense? In 2003, a department in the United State’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) disclosed that they had been unable to find any English language documentation for the flu being able to be infectious from person to person.

The recently dead epidemiologist, Edward Hope-Simpson discovered that when the elderly get shingles, it is caused by the same virus which causes chickenpox as a child. It becomes dormant in the body but can cause shingles when one is weakened by age.

Hope-Simpson became interested in the well known, but quite strange, fact that the flu only arises when the sun weakens during the winter. In the tropics, one gets the flu during the rainy season. He found that influenza outbreaks with exactly the same virus occurred year after year at almost exactly the same time in two far separated places, Prague and his English home town, Cirencester. With the help of old church records he found that, despite our faster daily lives, flu epidemics arise at the same time of year as they have for the last 400 years. This is true even in isolated towns; in such places the flu comes at the same time as in big cities.

Therefore, Hope-Simpson believed that flu epidemics are not cause by infection, but by a weakened state caused by the absence of sunlight. Canning now adds that vitamin D has a meaningful effect on the immune system and that the Japanese, as far back as 1945, found that it can protect rats against the flu. The well known vitamin D deficiency during the winter could be the reason for the weakened state that Hope-Simpson postulated.

Canning proposes that we should stock up on capsules of 50,000 units vitamin D in the event of a bird flu pandemic. He does not know if this will do any good, but says that it might save your life.

In any event, as Minerva also believes, his blog (as Minerva also believes) gives us something to think about.

By: Vitality Council

References:
1. www.knowledgeofhealth.com/report.asp?story=Why%20Flu%20Epidemics%20Occur%20in%20Winter
2. Minerva. British Medical Journal 2005;331:1152.

www.knowledgeofhealth.com/report.asp
bmj.bmjjournals.com
www.iom.dk

Vitamin Pills Prevent Infection

January 24, 2005

The increased predisposition to infections in diabetics can be reduced with a daily multivitamin-mineral pill.

Skeptics have doubted that ordinary vitamin pills can strengthen the immune defence. In 1992, the Canadian nutritionist R.K. Chandra did establish that a daily vitamin pill reduced the number of infections in a small group of healthy elderly people by 50%. However, critics questionned his independence and the succeeding year, French scientists could not find any similar effect in an – albeit short-term – study.

The situation is now completely different. An American study has shown that an ordinary vitamin pill almost halves the incidence of infections. The study that lasted nearly a year included 130 trial subjects who were predominantly middle-aged, overweight women; of these women, approximately 1/3 had type II diabetes – also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. Their lifestyle, however, was not necessarily unhealthy; more than every other woman exercised moderately or intensely.

During the study, half the trial subjects were given placebo (a non-effective tablet) and the other half were given a daily vitamin-mineral tablet. In the placebo group, 73% suffered infection while this was the case for only 43% in the vitamin group.

The diabetics were apparently the ones who benefited most from the vitamin pill as most of the difference between the two groups could be ascribed to them. Indeed, it is well-known that diabetics are more susceptible to infections than other people; 93% of the diabetics in the placebo group suffered infection while this was the case for only 17% of the diabetics in the vitamin group.

The obvious explanation could
be that the diabetics were vitamin-deficient; this would weaken their immune defence, but when given a vitamin pill, their health would be restored. However, the figures do not confirm this theory. It was estimated that approximately 1/3 of all the trial subjects – i.e. both diabetics and non-diabetics – were deficient in the vitamins A, -E, and -C. Therefore, the conclusion must be that not all diabetics had eaten unhealthily.

There is also the question of diabetics perhaps having a particularly large need for vitamins in order to maintain a healthy immune defence. During the trial, they were given a substantial supplement. The vitamin pill used in the trial contains fairly large amounts of the vitamins A, -B, -C, and -D, and it also contains folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin K, chromium, and iodine which are not always present in standard vitamin pills.

Six months ago, the French 7-year SU.VI.MAX study showed that small amounts of antioxidants dramatically reduce mortality and the incidence of cancer in men. The men were given vitamin C and -E plus beta-carotene and selenium in the same dosage as in the American study; however, the Americans were given all the other vitamins and minerals as well.

Around the same time, a study in Tanzania showed that multivitamins significally strengthen the immune

There is reason to believe that, on a long view, a multivitamin pill – preferably a strong one of the kind – will be of benefit to most people. On a short view it is quite certainly a significant advantage to diabetics, men, and HIV positive people in particular.

By: Vitality Council

References:
1) Chandra RK. Effect of vitamin and trace-element supplementation on immune responses and infection in elderly subjects. Lancet 1992;340:1124-7.
2) Chavance M et al. Does multivitamin supplementation prevent infections in healthy elderly subjects ? A controlled trial. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1993;63:11-16.
3) Barringer TA et al. Effect of a multivitamin and mineral supplement on infection and quality of life. Ann Int Med 2003;138:365-71.
4) Hercberg S et al. The SU.VI.Max study. Arch Int Med 2004;164:2335- 2342.

www.thelancet.com
www.annals.org
archinte.ama-assn.org
www.iom.dk

Vitamin E Against Alzheimer’s Disease and Colds

October 11, 2004

The World’s leading experts in vitamin E participated in a congress in New York in the spring which was sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences. The last time such a congress was held was in 1989 and some of the news have now been described in the October issue of the Academy’s scientific magazine.

It is astounding that we are still discussing nature’s purpose of Vitamin E. It can actually be difficult to find obvious deficiency symptoms in humans. However, it is certain that the vitamin is highly important. All higher animals – including fish – produce the protein TTT with the single task of transporting vitamin E in the blood. Natures probably would not have gone to such trouble of making a transport protein for a substance that the body could easily do without.

“When nature has chosen exactly alpha-tocopherol from the thousands of antioxidants in our surroundings, there must be a reason”, declared Angelo Azzi of the University of Bern. Vitamin E slows down the blood platelets when they are about to clog and form blood clots.

This is significant to the tendency of other cells to stick to each other, divide, and to send signals to each other. Furthermore, it increases the production of nitric oxide (NO) which is an important signalling molecule that relaxes the blood vessels and thereby lowers the blood pressure. How can we translate these fundamental abilities into something we can see and feel, though?

The participants at the congress presented results showing that Vitamin E delays Alzheimer’s disease. According to a French study, the combination of vitamin C and vitamin E can prevent the disease from occuring in the first place. The same combination of vitamins also prevents pre-eclampsia. Finally, a randomized trial has shown that vitamin E reduces the frequency of colds in elderly people by 25%.

A constant controversial question is why only a single randomized trial have been able to show that vitamin E prevents coronary thrombosis when there are so many other indications of this effect. The explanation could be that synthetic Vitamin E has often been used instead of natural vitamin E. Synthetic Vitamin E consists of eight different substances of which only a single one is present in nature.

Another reason might be that the Vitamin E has not been supplemented with vitamin C; automatic supplementation with Vitamin C happens in animals because of their ability to produce Vitamin C themselves.

However, the reason might also be that the participants of almost all the studies had been severely atherosclerotic from the start. “Once calcification has damaged an artery, the damage will heal very poorly”, professor Meydani of Tufts University, USA. Vitamin E is probably better at preventing than curing diseases!

Professor Maret Traber from Oregon estimates that 70 – 80% of all adults get less than the recommended 30 mg. of Vitamin E weekly. Her advice is to live healthily and that there is no harm in taking an extra Vitamin E supplement.
The exact reason for its beneficial effect will perhaps not be elucidated for another 15 years.

By: Vitality Council

Reference:
Hopkin K. New York Academy of Sciences Magazine 2004; October: 4-6.

www.nyas.org/publications
www.iom.dk

Vitamin E Prevents Colds

September 13, 2004

By taking a modest vitamin E supplement, the elderly can be spared every fifth cold they would normally get. This is the result of the best randomized trial in this field so far. It was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA.

The study was carried out by a university-based team of researchers in Boston belonging under the American Ministry of Agriculture. In charge of this group was Simin Meydani, a professor and specialist in nutrition and ageing. She has previously established that it is not belief but reality that Vitamin E stimulates the T cells of the immune system.

The study included 617 people in 33 nursing homes and they were all above 65 years old. Half of them were given a supplement of 200 I.U. of Vitamin E every day for a year. The other half were given placebo and during the study, it was calculated which group suffered the fewest respiratory infections.

It turned out that the ones who were given vitamin E had fewer infections than the others and particularly the number of colds were reduced by a statistical significance of 20%. There was no effect, however, on the frequency of pneumonia.

Meydani emphasized that even though only every fifth cold was prevented, the result is still important. Vitamin E is completely harmless and colds are the cause of 30% of all absence due to illness in the US.

Another perspective is the possibility that Vitamin E perhaps has a particular effect on viral infections like colds but not on diseases like pneumonia which are mostly caused by bacteria. Based on this, other researchers wanted to know if vitamin E can have an importance in the fight against AIDS, where it is exactly the T cells that are being targeted, but Meydani herself did not want to speak on this subject.

The results were originally displayed in May of this year at a closed scientific symposium on vitamin E arranged by the New York Academy of Science. Almost all of the world’s élite in vitamin E research participated.

Among other things, also the highly sensational findings were displayed that a combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements reduces the aggravation of Alzheimer’s disease by 50% and that the same combination prevents eclampsia in every other pregnant woman who are at risk of developing this serious disease.

By: Vitality Council

Reference:
Vitamin E and Respiratory Tract Infections in Elderly Nursing Home Residents A Randomized Controlled Trial Simin Nikbin Meydani, DVM, PhD; Lynette S. Leka, BS; Basil C. Fine, MD; Gerard E. Dallal, PhD; Gerald T. Keusch, MD; Maria Fiatarone Singh, MD; Davidson H. Hamer, MD JAMA. 2004;292:828-836.

jama.ama-assn.org
www.iom.dk