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Author Topic: Could vitamin D kill viruses?  (Read 84169 times)

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« on: 18/03/2009 01:30:03 »
Kevan Gelling asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Chris,

HPV causes cervical cancer; childhood diabetes has been linked to a virus; research this week has identified mutated DNA in pancreatic cancer; genome research has shown that viruses alter our DNA.

Vitamin D is linked to many illnesses (including the ones above), although it is not known how.  What if Vitamin D's main function is to kill viruses?  What if all illnesses linked to Vitamin D are caused by viruses?

In other words, low Vitamin D leads to more viral infections which can cause DNA mutations which in turn can cause cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.
 
List all illnesses linked to Vitamin D and we get a list of illnesses caused by viruses and we can then look for the virus(es) at fault and hopefully make vaccines to prevent it.

Is this possible?

Thanks
Kevan Gelling

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 24/03/2009 16:19:12 by Kevan Gelling »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #1 on: 18/03/2009 20:28:04 »
"Vitamin D is linked many illnesses (including the ones above), "
By whom?
Anyway, since most of us have plenty of vitamin D but still get viral infections from time to time, the answer to the title question is "No".
 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Re: Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #2 on: 24/03/2009 14:22:25 »
Here are the new stories:

Here are some Vitamin D research links:

And there's plenty more - look on PubMed or Vitamin D Council. I'm not able to assess whether the quality of the research, but there's lot of it.

Regards,
Kevan
« Last Edit: 24/03/2009 16:17:44 by Kevan Gelling »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #3 on: 24/03/2009 19:51:33 »
Since most of us have plenty of vitamin D but still get viral infections from time to time, the answer to the title question is still "No".
 

Variola

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #4 on: 24/03/2009 22:28:28 »
Quote
Vitamin D is linked to many illnesses (including the ones above), although it is not known how.  What if Vitamin D's main function is to kill viruses?  What if all illnesses linked to Vitamin D are caused by viruses?

In other words, low Vitamin D leads to more viral infections which can cause DNA mutations which in turn can cause cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.

Thats actually quite an interesting question, its made me ponder.

 There is no evidence ( that I have found throught trawling ) that vit D kills viruses, I wish that it did!

The problem is that not all viruses will causes DNA mutations. those that might cause it, might cause it in some people but not others, or may cause different mutations, or the right collection of mutations may not be present in some people but are in others depending on previous infections etc etc the list of permutations goes on.  Cancer itself usually has at least 6 mutations present on a cellular level. Like a lot of microbiology its lots of if's and but's and might be's.

I'm still reading the links you have posted ( they have lead me onto other articles!) but I will continue mooching roud pubmed, web of science etc see if I can dig anything else up.


 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #5 on: 24/03/2009 23:31:16 »
I don't think vitamin D kills viruses. It probably has a modulating effect on the immune system though; if you are deficient in vitamin D then many human systems won't work as well, and the immune system is doubtless one of them.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #6 on: 25/03/2009 20:35:25 »
"Hi B.C.
Citation/source/reference...please."

I didn't see anyone with rickets today, did you?.
Also, with the huge variation in human diets there would be some people who positively rattle with vitamin D. If they were immune to viral infections someone would have noticed.

Incidentally while all this stuff about vitamin D being some "cure all" is entirely speculative, the real evidence of what lots of vitamin D does results in the stuff being used as a rat poison.

It would be a shame if some misguided person saw this thread and poisoned themself with vitamin D because they thought it might cure the common cold.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #7 on: 25/03/2009 20:44:40 »
It's for all practical purposes impossible to do this accidentally, I'm pretty sure that there's never been a vitamin D poisoning case that doesn't involve an industrial accident or taking wayyyyy too many prescription strength pills over a loooong period. (There was a batch of vitamin pills that were made 100x too strong, a few people got ill).

Most people could take about 100 vitamin pills a day for several months before reaching toxicity levels.

If you go out in the sun for about 10 minutes your skin produces maybe 20,000 IU; the average pill has about 200-400 IU in it, dietary sources are much lower. Skin self limits, but pills don't. But I think the studies seem to say you can take up to about ~20,000 IU without any known long term harm at all. I think about 100,000 IU/day would put you in hospital... eventually.

Only a few food sources (mainly oily fish) give only a few hundred IU per portion, and most foods give none at all. There's only about a dozen common foods that have any significant vitamin D in at all. Eggs, 20 IU, you would have to eat 5 eggs a day to get up to your daily requirement.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2009 20:53:25 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline iko

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #8 on: 25/03/2009 21:31:02 »
If you go out in the sun for about 10 minutes your skin produces maybe 20,000 IU; the average pill has about 200-400 IU in it, dietary sources are much lower. Skin self limits, but pills don't. But I think the studies seem to say you can take up to about ~20,000 IU without any known long term harm at all. I think about 100,000 IU/day would put you in hospital... eventually.

Only a few food sources (mainly oily fish) give only a few hundred IU per portion, and most foods give none at all. There's only about a dozen common foods that have any significant vitamin D in at all. Eggs, 20 IU, you would have to eat 5 eggs a day to get up to your daily requirement.

Hi wolfekeeper,

I agree with you.
Vitamin D is not a 'real' vitamin, a cofactor that you get from your diet.
It is a steroid hormone, produced by our skin through sunlight exposure.
Difficult to measure (nanograms per mL in the circulating blood), it's coming late as a wonderful agent, able to control the function of over 200 genes.
Recent research results are quite promising, and its anti-infective properties (through antibiotic peptides production) have been defined only 4-5 years ago.
The old cod liver oil given to TB patients in the last century is finally scientifically proven as a treatment support!
« Last Edit: 05/04/2009 00:38:36 by iko »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #9 on: 25/03/2009 21:41:54 »
Can I cite Wolfekeeper's post as evidence that most of us get enough vitamin D?
"If you go out in the sun for about 10 minutes your skin produces maybe 20,000 IU; the average pill has about 200-400 IU in it, dietary sources are much lower. "
So it's easy to get, at least in the Summer, yet people get viral diseases during Summer (perhaps fewer than Winter but that's
1 due to confounding variables and
2 not the point; if vit D killed viruses then practically nobody should get a viral disease in Summer.)
Vitamin D doesn't kill viruses no matter how nice it would be if it did.
 

Offline iko

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #10 on: 25/03/2009 21:49:05 »
"Hi B.C.
Citation/source/reference...please."

I didn't see anyone with rickets today, did you?.
Also, with the huge variation in human diets there would be some people who positively rattle with vitamin D. If they were immune to viral infections someone would have noticed.

Rickets is still around: I've seen children, I read reported cases:



BTW, where is your citation about "...most of us have plenty of vitamin D"?

iko
« Last Edit: 26/03/2009 11:11:41 by iko »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #11 on: 25/03/2009 22:12:21 »
Can I cite Wolfekeeper's post as evidence that most of us get enough vitamin D?
"If you go out in the sun for about 10 minutes your skin produces maybe 20,000 IU; the average pill has about 200-400 IU in it, dietary sources are much lower. "
So it's easy to get, at least in the Summer
Actually, a lot of people seem to be deficient if anything. Note that's only about enough for 100 days of the RDA (and there is a case that the RDA is too low BTW.)

There's also issues in that the exposure has to be over most of your skin with the sun high in the sky to make anything like that much, and a lot of Europe is quite a long way North.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #12 on: 26/03/2009 20:34:39 »
Only 10 minutes sun in 100 days is a bad Summer, even by British standards.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #13 on: 26/03/2009 21:02:28 »
Yeah, but it saturates, so if you haven't seen the sun in a hundred days, you're risking deficiency, so over winter is particularly bad. And note that it's the UV-B that's important, which is mostly a midsummer thing.

Right about now it would be likely to be particularly low, or a month ago maybe.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #14 on: 26/03/2009 21:12:27 »
OK, but people do still get viral infections in the height of Summer.
I only need to find one sun lover with a viral infection to show that vitamin D doesn't (reliably) kill viruses.
How about my Aunt? She lives in South Africa, hates the cold, loves the sun and got shingles.
Now that's a virus she picked up as a child (ie chickenpox). So for decades she had plenty of sunshine (much of it before there was an association with cancer) and so she would have had about as much vitamin D as anyone gets and, in spite of this, the virus lived for those decades.

At least one virus is not killed by vitamin D.

Incidentally, my guess is that more viruses are "killed" by sunlight than by any other cause, so there's an interesting problem with that confounding variable in this discussion.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #15 on: 26/03/2009 21:25:39 »
Actually, if anything, as I understand it, vitamin D tends to suppress the immune system.

But, yes, sunlight itself is a good antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.
 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #16 on: 31/03/2009 14:42:34 »
Since most of us have plenty of vitamin D but still get viral infections from time to time,
the answer to the title question is still "No".

Your reasoning is poor.  Using this logic I could state - Since most of us have plenty of white blood cells but still get viral infections from time to time, the answer to "Could white blood cells kill viruses?" is still "No".

Is there scientific evidence (rather than conjecture) that links high levels of Vitamin D with low levels of viral infections? "Yes" - Epidemic influenza and vitamin D

A couple of other points:
* The sun is not strong enough in the UK (above 50N latitude) for the skin to make enough Vitamin D for most of the winter (Daniel E. Roth DE, et al. Vitamin D insufficiency is common in Canadian children and adolescents: national guidelines provide insufficient vitamin D to maintain adequate blood levels. Can J Public Health 2005)
* Vitamin D deficiency be found in the sunniest places - Vitamin D deficiency in Sydney skin cancer patients
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #17 on: 31/03/2009 21:03:52 »
My logic is fine; you just haven't understood what "plenty of" means.
Unlike vitamin D, the body makes lots more active white blood cells during infections It can't make lots of vitamin D.

A couple of repeated points
"The sun is not strong enough in the UK (above 50N latitude) for the skin to make enough Vitamin D for most of the winter " And people get viral infections in Summer.


"Vitamin D deficiency be found in the sunniest places - Vitamin D deficiency in Sydney skin cancer patients"
Since most of us have plenty of vitamin D but still get viral infections from time to time...


 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #18 on: 02/04/2009 13:46:19 »
My logic is fine

Your logic:
  • (plenty of X) AND (get viral infections) INFERS (X cannot kill viruses)
  • IF X = (white blood cells) THEN (white blood cells cannot kill viruses)

Hmm

« Last Edit: 02/04/2009 13:50:11 by Kevan Gelling »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #19 on: 02/04/2009 20:21:41 »
Please chack the meaning of the word "infer".
Also, I think that white blood cells don't technically kill viruses. They kill viruses that have been tagged by antibodies.
In the absense of those antibodies then that logic is true (provided that you swap the word "implies" for "infers")
On their own neither white blood cells nor vitamin D kills viruses. With help the cells can do it.
What provides the putative help for the vitamin?

Anyway, why didn't the vitamin D kill my aunt's chickenpox virus?
 

Variola

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #20 on: 02/04/2009 22:06:02 »
Quote
Anyway, why didn't the vitamin D kill my aunt's chickenpox virus?

Indeed. Why in the more prosperous parts of Africa is HIV still endemic? i.e in a part of the world with good nutrition and plenty of sunlight?

Vit D does not kill viruses by itself, and there is nothing so far, after trawling to support any hypothesis that it would.
 

Offline iko

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #21 on: 03/04/2009 15:08:18 »
Anyway, why didn't the vitamin D kill my aunt's chickenpox virus?

In biology, we should always talk about percentage of risk, incidence, statistical data.
No total immunity.  No 100% protection.



What provides the putative help for the vitamin?



...Earlier, I wrote that autism was linked to vitamin D deficiency in pregnant mothers, and that women's cancers were dramatically reduced by regular sunlight exposure. Now, research indicates that the risk of placental infection is impressively lowered by increasing vitamin D levels.[1]

This research did not surprise me. Immunity is enhanced by high vitamin D levels through the increased production of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin, which keeps both bacterial and viral infections at bay. This is the exact reason that flu occurs almost exclusively in winter months in both hemispheres; blood levels of vitamin D are much lower in winter months (see my earlier posts)

In this research, placental cells were exposed to E. coli bacteria and then treated with vitamin D. The treatment reduced the risk of infection by about 50%.

Remember that there is also a dramatic reduction in the risk of breast and ovarian cancer among women with high sunlight exposure and high vitamin D levels; now we can add one more advantage of vitamin D to the list of benefits for female reproductive tissue.
...

from: Vit.D & solar power...    http://drsorenson.blogspot.com/2009/01/vitamin-d-reduces-risk-of-placental.html



Antimicrobial peptides and the skin immune defense system.


Schauber J, Gallo RL.
Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.

Our skin is constantly challenged by microbes but is rarely infected. Cutaneous production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a primary system for protection, and expression of some AMPs further increases in response to microbial invasion. Cathelicidins are unique AMPs that protect the skin through 2 distinct pathways: (1) direct antimicrobial activity and (2) initiation of a host response resulting in cytokine release, inflammation, angiogenesis, and reepithelialization. Cathelicidin dysfunction emerges as a central factor in the pathogenesis of several cutaneous diseases, including atopic dermatitis, in which cathelicidin is suppressed; rosacea, in which cathelicidin peptides are abnormally processed to forms that induce inflammation; and psoriasis, in which cathelicidin peptide converts self-DNA to a potent stimulus in an autoinflammatory cascade. Recent work identified vitamin D3 as a major factor involved in the regulation of cathelicidin. Therapies targeting control of cathelicidin and other AMPs might provide new approaches in the management of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases.

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Aug;122(2):261-6.


« Last Edit: 03/04/2009 15:26:54 by iko »
 

Variola

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #22 on: 03/04/2009 15:28:56 »
Quote
Remember that there is also a dramatic reduction in the risk of breast and ovarian cancer among women with high sunlight exposure and high vitamin D levels; now we can add one more advantage of vitamin D to the list of benefits for female reproductive tissue.

And a greater risk of skin cancer..
 

Offline iko

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #23 on: 03/04/2009 15:34:36 »

And a greater risk of skin cancer..


The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sunlight:
how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer?


Reichrath J.
Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie, Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes, 66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany. hajrei@uniklinik-saarland.de
There is no doubt that solar ultraviolet (UV) exposure is the most important environmental risk factor for the development of non-melanoma skin cancer. Therefore, sun protection is of particular importance to prevent these malignancies, especially in risk groups. However, 90% of all requisite vitamin D has to be formed in the skin through the action of the sun-a serious problem, for a connection between vitamin D deficiency and a broad variety of independent diseases including various types of cancer, bone diseases, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and cardiovascular disease has now been clearly indicated in a large number of epidemiologic and laboratory studies. An important link that improved our understanding of these new findings was the discovery that the biologically active vitamin D metabolite 1,25(OH)(2)D is not exclusively produced in the kidney, but in many other tissues such as prostate, colon, skin and osteoblasts. Extra-renally produced 1,25(OH)(2)D is now considered to be an autocrine or paracrine hormone, regulating various cellular functions including cell growth. We and others have shown that strict sun protection causes vitamin D deficiency in risk groups. In the light of new scientific findings that convincingly demonstrate an association of vitamin D deficiency with a variety of severe diseases including various cancers, the detection and treatment of vitamin D deficiency in sun-deprived risk groups is of high importance. It has to be emphasized that in groups that are at high risk of developing vitamin D deficiency (e.g., nursing home residents or patients under immunosuppressive therapy), vitamin D status has to be monitored. Vitamin D deficiency should be treated, e.g., by giving vitamin D orally. Dermatologists and other clinicians have to recognize that there is convincing evidence that the protective effect of less intense solar UV radiation outweighs its mutagenic effects.
Although further work is necessary to define an adequate vitamin D status and adequate guidelines for solar UV exposure, it is at present mandatory that public health campaigns and recommendations of dermatologists on sun protection consider these facts.
Well-balanced recommendations on sun protection have to ensure an adequate vitamin D status, thereby protecting people against adverse effects of strict sun protection without significantly increasing the risk of developing UV-induced skin cancer.

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):9-16.

« Last Edit: 03/04/2009 16:08:22 by iko »
 

Variola

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Could vitamin D kill viruses?
« Reply #24 on: 03/04/2009 15:53:00 »
Iko if you are going to cite papers, please read them first. Simply posting extract from journals, no matter how well researched is not enough ( for me anyhow)

Quote
Recommendations to limit sun exposure to prevent skin cancer further complicate the ongoing debate about the health benefits of vitamin D3

From:Antimicrobial peptides and the skin immune defense system.

While the benefits of a good level of Vit D is in doubt, its capacity to 'kill' viruses, what type of viruses, if it kills bacterium, and how efficient it maybe is still in a lot of doubt.

It could be argued that a good diet and moderate exercise to ensure a full supply of the range of vitamins and trace elements is going to benefit anyones immunes system!
Having high or repleat levels of Vit D and being deficianet in others will affect any hypothesis that Vit D is the key to immne health.
 



 

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