Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, March 19, 2008
Vitamins Reduce the Duration and Severity of Influenza
(OMNS, March 19, 2008) Vitamins fight the flu by boosting the body’s
own immune response and by accelerating healing. Individuals can be
better prepared for an influenza epidemic by learning how to use
vitamin supplements to fight off ordinary respiratory infections. The
most important vitamins are vitamins C, D, niacin, and thiamine.
Vitamin D has known anti-viral properties  and has been directly
associated with fighting influenza in a recent scientific review. 
Extensive evidence now shows that vitamin D serves as an important
regulator of immune system responses.  The most dramatic evidence is
a recent double-blind trial proving that vitamin D prevents cancers
, supported by two recent epidemiological studies. [5,6] Vitamin D
has been part of a supplement combination proven effective against HIV
in a recent double-blind trial. 
During a viral infection, the body can draw on vitamin D stored in
the body to supply the increased needs of the immune system. The
withdrawn supplies of vitamin D are quickly replenished with 4,000 to
10,000 IU/day doses for a few days. Due to biochemical individuality,
we recommend vitamin D blood testing as a routine part of a yearly
Niacin has known anti-viral properties. The most persuasive
evidence comes from recent work with HIV patients.[8-12] Niacin is
required for cells to generate the energy they use to perform virtually
all biological functions.
Niacin’s effectiveness fighting viruses may have to do with
accelerating wound healing as well as improving immunity. Accelerating
tissue repair limits collateral damage and minimizes the risk of
secondary infection. Niacin has been proven to promote healing of
damaged skin in double-blind trials.  Other recent findings (niacin
reduces injury to the brain after strokes and reduces inflammation in
general) also provide evidence of healing. [14,15]
Niacin, 500 to 2,000 mg/day in divided doses, is generally well
tolerated during periods when the immune system is fighting viral
infections. One takes such doses for several days starting at the onset
of a viral infection. Dividing the dose reduces flushing. Using
"no-flush" form niacin (inositol hexaniacinate) eliminates the flushing
Strong evidence shows that high doses of vitamin C prevent common
colds and reduce a cold’s severity and duration.  Given the
similarities between cold and influenza viruses, the scientific case
for treating influenza with vitamin C has been investigated and shown
to have merit.  Fighting influenza with vitamin C has been tested
in the clinical setting and reported to be effective at very high
doses. [18, 19]
Extraordinary quantities of vitamin C, between 20,000 and 100,000
mg/day, are surprisingly well tolerated during periods when the immune
system is fighting viral infections. These large daily amounts are best
taken divided up into as many doses per day as possible, beginning
immediately at the first sign of a viral infection. To achieve maximum
effect it is necessary to maintain high concentrations of vitamin C in
the body. Large, very frequent oral intake of vitamin C can maintain
much higher blood plasma concentrations of vitamin C than is generally
believed. [16, 19, 20]
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Two items of recent scientific research have shown that the
B-vitamin thiamine has anti-viral properties. TTFD, one of the
fat-soluble forms of thiamine, was recently proven to be a potent
inhibitor of HIV virus replication . Thiamine was shown to be an
effective treatment for chronic hepatitis B. 
Influenza killed more people in the two years following World War I
than all soldiers killed on both sides in four years of machine-gun
warfare. Influenza has been and remains a serious threat to human
health. There is a great deal of public concern about the possibility
of a repeat of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Vitamin C, niacin, vitamin
D, and thiamine act together to strengthen the immune system, and to
optimize health. Intelligent, high-dose vitamin supplement use can do
much to eliminate the risk of death and disability for individuals with
average health, and dramatically reduce the hospitalization and death
rates amongst the most vulnerable members of the population.
 Cannell JJ et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D.
Epidemiology and Infection. 2006. Dec;134(6):1129-40. Free access to
full text paper at http://www.biochem.wisc.edu/courses/biochem901/secure/materials/readings/09_Cannell.pdf
 Tavera-Mendoza LE, White JH. Cell defenses and the sunshine vitamin. Scientific American, November 2007, 62-72.
 Lappe JM et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation
reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr.
 Abbas S, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of
postmenopausal breast cancer - results of a large case-control study.
Carcinogenesis. 2008 Jan;29(1):93-9.
 Freedman DM et al. Prospective study of serum vitamin D
and cancer mortality in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007.
 Kaiser JD et al. Micronutrient supplementation increases
CD4 count in HIV-infected individuals on highly active antiretroviral
therapy: A prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2006. 42(5), 523-528.
"Micronutrient supplementation can significantly improve CD4 cell count
reconstitution in HIV-infected patients. . . "
 Murray MF. Niacin as a potential AIDS preventive factor. Medical Hypotheses, 1999. 53(5), 375-379.
 Murray MF, Langan M, MacGregor RR. Increased plasma
tryptophan in HIV-infected patients treated with pharmacologic doses of
nicotinamide. Nutrition (NY), 2001. 17(7/8), 654-656.
 Murray MF. Treatment of retrovirus induced derangements
with niacin compounds. The Foundation for Innovative Therapies, Inc.,
USA, 2006. 9 p. US 7012086.
 Pero RW. A method for increasing tryptophan and
nicotinamide levels in vivo, and therapeutic and monitoring methods.
Lynpete Trading 6 Pty., Ltd. Trading as Genetic Health Enterprises, S.
Afr. PCT Int. Appl. 2008, 73pp. WO 2008008837 A2 20080117
 Dube MP et al. Safety and efficacy of extended-release
niacin for the treatment of dyslipidaemia in patients with HIV
infection: AIDS clinical trials group study A5148. Antiviral Therapy,
2006. 11(8), 1081-1089. "(D)doses up to 2,000 mg daily was safe,
well-tolerated and efficacious in HIV-infected subjects. . . "
 Maynard KI. Natural neuroprotectants after stroke. Science & Medicine, 2002. 8(5), 258-267.
 Yu, Bi-lian; Zhao, Shui-ping. Anti-inflammatory effect is
an important property of niacin on atherosclerosis beyond its
lipid-altering effects. Medical Hypotheses, 2007. 69(1), 90-94.
 Hickey S, Roberts H. Ascorbate: The science of vitamin C. 2004. Lulu Press. ISBN 1-4116-0724-4. Reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/ascorbate.html
 Ely JT. Ascorbic acid role in containment of the world
avian flu pandemic. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2007. 232(7),
 Cathcart RF. Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance,
anascorbemia, and acute induced scurvy. Med Hypotheses. 1981
Nov;7(11):1359-76. Free access to full text paper at http://www.doctoryourself.com/titration.html See also: Cathcart RF. The third face of vitamin C. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 7:4;197-200, 1993. Free access at http://www.orthomoleculartherapy.net/library/jom/1992/pdf/1992-v07n04-p197.pdf or http://www.doctoryourself.com/cathcart_thirdface.html
Other Cathcart papers posted at www.orthomed.com and http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_cathcart.html.
 Duconge J et al. Pharmacokinetics of vitamin C: insights
into the oral and intravenous administration of ascorbate. PR Health
Sciences Journal, 2008. 27:1, March.
 Shoji, Shozo et al. Thiamine disulfide as a potent
inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus (type-1) production.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 1994. 205(1),
967-75. "The results suggest that thiamine disulfide may be important
for AIDS chemotherapy."
 Wallace AE, Weeks WB. Thiamine treatment of chronic
hepatitis B infection. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2001.
Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org
The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.
Editorial Review Board:
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, PhD
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
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