Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Regularly sick - take some vitamin A (in a multi)

Today the theme continues on vitamin A. Our family is very rarely sick. Some of this I am sure is due to genetics.... however we often find other families have far more sickness than what we have. I believe that some of this is due to lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet.

The vitamin A article that I have been blogging about discusses the implication of non optimal vitamin A intake. When you have very low vitamin A levels eg > 100 micro grams per liter, this being a vegetable intake of less than the RDI, there is a clear connection between vitamin A lack and a increase in illness. Due to the complexities of the human body it is however very difficult to determine if sub optimal level of vitamin A results in increased sickness. But there is a number of pointers that suggest sub optimal vitamin A status increases risk of infection.

It would appear that the body uses up vitamin A in sickness. For instance the used up vitamin A (decarboxylated) appears in the urine for at least the following sickness:
  • Pueumonia
  • Nephritis Inflammation of the kidney's
  • Hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatic fever
 It is unknown how or why this occurs. However what is known is that vitamin A enhances the natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell, activity. It also improves the function of macrophages, another type of white blood cells.

Studies with rats were non optimal vitamin A feeds eg no clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency was compared to rats feed a higher vitamin A level. They found that the rats with the lower blood vitamin A level had lower Immunoglobulin levels (IgG-1, IgG-3, IgM). Immunoglobulins are more commonly known as antigens, and are special proteins that your body makes to attack germs.

Another study supplemented Australian children with a history of frequent respiratory infections, the found that it resulted in a 25% decrease of infections. The paper states:
None of the children was considered biochemically deficient on the basis of a single plasma retional results.
 What this is saying is that they measured the retional level in the blood and it was about 100 mico g/ L which is the cut off for vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A was also given to children in South Africa who had sever measles. There was a lower death rate and sickness rate among the children. Yet children in South Africa are considered to get enough vitamin A.

Thus there are a number of pointers that strongly suggest vitamin A and sickness are tied together. I would strongly recommend that instead of having a vitamin A supplement that you get a good multi instead.

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