Vitamin A and Respiratory Ailments
It may seem like overkill, but I will do a few more newsletters on certain nutrients and their relationship to COVID-19. All of the material I have been writing on nutrients, COVID, and respiratory ailments, is germane to any and all forms of influenza. So, at least when I am done we will have a database to turn to in case COVID resurfaces (as we are assured it will), or to refer to when needing to prevent or fight any respiratory diseases.
Vitamin A and Respiratory Ailments
Those familiar with my older blogs, and both of my books, are aware that I champion the use of vitamin A. And I have spent a lot of time debunking the bad science that has made people afraid to supplement with vitamin A (resulting in vitamin A being almost totally absent from multivitamins).
For those unfamiliar, but interested, here are links to some of my earlier blogs on the subject.
Vitamin A blogs:
We know that vitamin A is critical to mucosal lining, and thus to the health of the lungs. In fact, I have seen people reverse their asthma symptoms by following my protocol of therapeutic doses of vitamin A, vitamin D, and iodine, all of which are required for development, maintenance, and rebuilding of mucosal membranes. (See this blog for more on the protocol: How 3 Nutrients Can Heal Most Ailments.)
So it’s no great leap to realize that vitamin A should be a part of our arsenal when seeking to prevent and/or treat all respiratory and influenza-type ailments.
I will examine herein the scientific studies I found to fortify my position that, for optimal immunity and lung health, we all need to supplement with vitamin A. The option being regularly consuming animal (or fish) livers, as liver is the only appreciable source of vitamin A available from the diet. (Beta carotene is a poor substitute, as I have articulated elsewhere.)
We know that vitamin A is essential to the development of the lungs: “vitamin A (retinol) and its metabolite, retinoic acid, called natural retinoids, are major factors involved in differentiation and in maturation of the lungs.” And, “adult as well as fetal lungs accumulate retinyl esters, the storage form of vitamin A”. (Source)
Furthermore, we know that vitamin A, along with other nutrients, are required for healthy immunity: “Low micronutrient status, such as of vitamin A or zinc, has been associated with increased infection risk.” (Source)
In fact, “vitamin A deficiency is one of the most profuse nutritional deficiencies worldwide, and is associated with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases in both man and animal models”. (Source)
Most of the clinical studies I could find on the subject of vitamin A and respiratory infection have to do with children, but really, what are adults but grown up children? So, here are a couple of studies on children, related to our subject.
One study investigated “the correlation of serum vitamin A, D, and E levels with a recurrent respiratory infection (RRI) in children”. This study concluded that, “the deficiency of vitamin A, D, and E is positively correlated with the disease activity of children with RRI. Therefore, the supplement of vitamin A, D, and E through dietary adjustment is beneficial to the rehabilitation of the children”. (Source)
Another study looked at “the association of the serum level of vitamin A (VA) with the severity of pneumonia and recurrent respiratory infection (RRI)”, only to discover that, “children with pneumonia often have a low level of VA, and the level of VA is associated with the severity of pneumonia and the development of RRI afterwards”. (Source)
Here I will point out that the majority of deaths from the Spanish Flu, and COVID-19, are due to patients developing pneumonia, and thus anything that protects us from developing this lung infection is of extraordinary value.
While we are on the subject of deadly lung infections, let’s have a look at tuberculosis.
In low and middle-income countries, where rates of tuberculosis are high, we also find vitamin A deficiency to be common.
This study “assessed the impact of baseline levels of vitamin A and carotenoids on tuberculosis disease risk”, in Lima, Peru. Here is their conclusion: “Vitamin A deficiency strongly predicted the risk of incident tuberculosis disease among household contacts of patients with tuberculosis. Vitamin A supplementation among individuals at high risk of tuberculosis may provide an effective means of preventing tuberculosis disease.” (Source)
Protective Effects of Vitamin A
According to research, the protective effects of vitamin A on lung and bronchial function, during viral infection, seems to be due to two mechanisms: it has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. (Source)
“Supplementation with vitamin A has been found to be beneficial in a number of inflammatory conditions, including skin disorders such as acne vulgaris, broncho-pulmonary dysplasia and some forms of precancerous and cancer states.” (Broncho-pulmonary dysplasia is also known as chronic lung disease of premature babies.) (Source)
And, many studies have examined the antiviral properties of vitamin A, including this one, which examined people with hepatitis C virus (HCV). To quote: “A high percentage of patients with chronic HCV infection have serum vitamin A deficiency. This condition is associated with nonresponse to antiviral therapy.” (Source)
By now, most of us have heard of the infamous cytokine storm that accompanies the worst cases of COVID-19. This inflammatory over-reaction of the immune system can be deadly, however, initially, cytokines are part of a healthy immune response to a viral attack.
This is going to be a bit technical so I will quote from the study directly:
“Type 1 interferons (IFN-I) are a family of cytokines of the early innate immune response to viruses that are being tested against SARS-CoV-2. However, coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 can suppress host IFN-I antiviral responses. Retinoids are a family molecules related to vitamin A that possess robust immune-modulating properties, including the ability to increase and potentiate the actions of IFN-I. Therefore, adjuvants such as retinoids, capable of increasing IFN-I-mediated antiviral responses, should be tested in combinations of IFN-I and antiviral drugs in pre-clinical studies of SARS-CoV-2.” (This is very germane since SARS is a coronavirus, and shows many similarities with COVID-19.) (Source)
The body requires vitamin A in order to support the production of antiviral cytokines, but, since vitamin A also has anti-inflammatory properties, we can assume that it will at the same time keep the cytokines in check, forbidding them from running amok. And there is some evidence to support this idea of vitamin A also keeping cytokines from over-expressing. (Source)
If anyone chooses to follow the embedded links I have included in this newsletter, and in the others related to nutrients and prevention/treatment of influenza, respiratory infections, and COVID-19, they will find that they all lead back to proper scientific studies (mostly found on PubMed databases). These are all scientifically valid concepts, so the fact that the medical profession is not advising the use of these nutrients as protective for all people, and that any talk of this material (in North America) is viewed as “false news”, and often censored off of social media and internet platforms, verges on criminal.