How to make COVID vaccines more effective: give people vitamin and mineral supplements

For the immune system to fight off infection or generate good protection against a disease following vaccination, it needs a variety of micronutrients. This is likely to be just as true for COVID-19 as for other diseases. Given that malnutrition is common among elderly people, raising their vitamin and mineral levels before they get vaccinated could be a way of boosting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

How to make COVID vaccines more effective: give people vitamin and mineral supplementshttps://theconversation.com/how-to-make-covid-vaccines-more-effective-give-people-vitamin-and-mineral-supplements-154974

Follow the link above to read the entire article. And take your multivitamin.

E. coli Outbreak with Unknown Food Source – CDC

As of February 1, 2021, a total of 16 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported from 5 states. This map shows where sick people live.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 23, 2020, to January 7, 2021. This chart shows when people got sick. Recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to link illnesses to an outbreak.

Sick people range in age from 10 to 95 years, with a median age of 31, and 88% are female. Of 12 people with information available, 9 have been hospitalized. Of 11 people with information, 3 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One death has been reported from Washington.

Investigation Details — https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2021/o157h7-02-21/details.html

“Unknown food source” bothers me.

Poor gut health is Associated With Severe COVID-19

In a review published this week in mBio, microbiologist Heenam Stanley Kim, Ph.D, from Korea University’s Laboratory for Human-Microbial Interactions, in Seoul, examined emerging evidence suggesting that poor gut health adversely affects COVID-19 prognosis. Based on his analysis, Kim proposed that gut dysfunction — and its associated leaky gut — may exacerbate the severity of infection by enabling the virus to access the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs. These organs are vulnerable to infection because they have widespread ACE2 — a protein target of SARS-CoV-2 — on the surface.”There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19,” Kim said.

American Society for Microbiology. “Poor gut health connected to severe COVID-19, new review shows.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210112085347.htm (accessed January 15, 2021).

Journal Reference: Heenam Stanley Kim. Do an Altered Gut Microbiota and an Associated Leaky Gut Affect COVID-19 Severity? mBio, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03022-20

Eat more legumes, plants and other sources of dietary fiber.

Eat less meat, dairy, and eggs.

Vitamin D Deficiency Is Inversely Associated with COVID-19 Incidence and Disease Severity in Chinese People

In the general linear model adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities, and BMI, serum 25(OH)D concentrations were significantly lower among COVID-19 patients than the 2018–2019 controls [ln transformed values of 3.32 ± 0.04 vs. 3.46 ± 0.022 ln (nmol/L), = 0.014]. Multivariable logistic regression showed that male sex (OR: 2.26; 95% CI: 1.06, 4.82), advanced age (≥65 y) (OR: 4.93; 95% CI: 1.44, 16.9), and vitamin D deficiency (<30 nmol/L) (OR: 2.72; 95% CI: 1.23, 6.01) were significantly associated with COVID-19 severity (all < 0.05).

These findings suggested that vitamin D deficiency impacts COVID-19 hospitalization and severity in the Chinese population.

Vitamin D Deficiency Is Inversely Associated with COVID-19 Incidence and Disease Severity in Chinese People — The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 98–103, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa332

More links are in my last post Vitamin D – What’s Your Level?

I am hoping all of my Chinese relatives read this.

Vitamin D – What’s Your Level?

“Our trends this year are dramatically different than previous years’ in that they’re far less fleeting. COVID-19 is a pandemic that sits on top of another pandemic in the United States of malnutrition and poor long-term health,” remarked Shelby Miller, MS, Natural Grocers’ Manager of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education. “Hence, 2021 holds broader trends that focus on improving nutrition to support our own health, as well as the health of our communities and our environment.”

While there are many things in life outside of our control, knowing our vitamin D levels is a simple step we can all take to elevate our health and the health of our families—it is something you can own as a proactive tool to be rooted in health. This unique nutrient plays a critical role in whether or not your immune system functions sufficiently and responds as needed. It is essential for lung health, supporting positive moods, brain function, and cognition, a healthy weight, a healthy pregnancy, children’s health, healthy blood sugar levels, healthy blood pressure, bone health, and muscle tone. Between 40 and 80 percent of American adults are outright deficient in vitamin D, while approximately 90 percent have sub-optimal levels. Achieving optimal levels (between 30 and 50 ng/mL) of vitamin D through supplementation is crucial to experiencing its full range of benefits. Because darker skin hampers the body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, supplementation is especially important for people of color. A national survey reported average serum vitamin D concentrations of 28.1 ng/mL, 21.6 ng/mL, and 16.9 ng/mL in Caucasian, Mexican American, and African American adults aged 20 years and older, respectively. Vitamin D is a nutrient all of us should be focused on, and we all need to know our levels, but this is especially important for those with darker complexions.

SOURCE Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. — https://investors.naturalgrocers.com/2020-12-03-Natural-Grocers-Predicts-Top-10-Nutrition-Trends-For-2021 — Natural Grocers Predicts Top 10 Nutrition Trends For 2021 Press Release 12.03.20

I have no financial relationship with Natural Grocers nor do I shop at their stores often. We get the company’s sales brochure via Snail Mail and when I read the #1 predicted trend for 2021 was Vitamin D supplementation I had to pass it along (with proper attribution). On a personal note I started supplementing with Vitamin D around 7-8 years ago. I was satisfied with my research and figured this was an easy behavioral change. Besides, Vitamin D supplements were (and still are) cheap and widely available.

The Boss and I share the same personal physician. At my last wellness check she looked me in the eye and said,

“Tell you wife to take a Vitamin D supplement.”

True story. BTW my last level was 38 ng/mL. A few more of my posts on Vitamin D are listed below.

Ultraprocessed Food Again Linked to Increased CVD, Death

High consumption of UPF in this Mediterranean cohort was associated with a 58% increased risk for CVD mortality and 52% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (IHD) and cerebrovascular causes, independently of known risk factors for CVD, even among individuals who otherwise adhered to the Mediterranean diet.

The foods that contributed most to total UPF consumed were processed meat, which accounted for 19.8% of UPF intake; pizza (16.8%); and cakes and pies (13.4%).

The researchers found a direct linear dose-response relation between a 5% increase in the proportion of UPF in the diet and risk for all-cause and CVD mortality.

Cite this: Ultraprocessed Food Again Linked to Increased CVD, Death – Medscape – Dec 24, 2020. — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/943200?src=rss

After reading the full summary of the study I had some issues with the study findings on pizza. Apparently I’m not alone. From the comment section:

Pizzas were mentioned by the authors and Dr. Walter Willet (for whom I have always had great admiration and consider him among my 3 most valued nutrition resources) as a UPF. However, even as a consistent follower of Mediterranean diet for >40 years, I see nothing wrong with occasional enjoyment of two or three slices of Margherita pizza (which is not covered with any processed meats or extra cheeses).

Dr. Michael Mogadam

Like I’ve said many, many times pizza is a food group and should not be considered an ultraprocessed food. Without pizza life would not be possible. Pass on the chips, sugary drinks, restructured meat (see https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/restructured-meat) and other types of junk food.

Don’t pass on the pizza!

Eat More Pasta – Lose Weight!

In some cases, food companies can obscure their involvement through the use of what are known as “front groups,” third-party organizations disguised by innocuous-seeming names. (Until recently, for example, Coca-Cola funded a front group called the “Global Energy Balance Network” that conducted research on obesity.) Sacks and his team included front groups in their definition of industry involvement.

“It’s sometimes quite difficult to see when you’re looking at who’s funding a study, if [they] are related to the food industry,” he said. “So when we would see a paper funded by some random-sounding group, the challenge was actually digging in, going on their website and seeing who’s funding them. Because the food industry often tries to hide that.”

In the most popular nutrition journals, 1 in 7 articles have food industry involvement — https://thecounter.org/food-industry-involvement-nutrition-journals-studies/

At least 10 peer-reviewed studies about pasta published since 2008 were either funded directly by Barilla or, like the one published this month, were carried out by scientists who have had financial ties to the company, which reported sales of 3.4 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in 2016. For two years, Barilla has publicized some of these studies, plus others favorable to its product, on its website with taglines like “Eat Smart Be Smart…With Pasta” and “More Evidence Pasta Is Good For You.” And the company hired the large public relations firm Edelman to push the latest study’s findings to journalists.

Those Studies About Pasta Being Good For You? Some Are Paid For By Barilla. — https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stephaniemlee/pasta-barilla-science-funding#.dmmzapNdG

I just love writing obvious click bait headlines.

Covid-19 Jeopardy – Green Tea, Two Varieties of Muscadine Grapes, Cacao Powder and Dark Chocolate

Chemical compounds in foods or beverages like green tea, muscadine grapes and dark chocolate can bind to and block the function of a particular enzyme, or protease, in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a new study by plant biologists at North Carolina State University.

North Carolina State University. “Chemical compounds in foods can inhibit a key SARS-CoV-2 enzyme, study finds.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201130131445.htm (accessed November 30, 2020).

Journal Reference:

  1. Yue Zhu, De-Yu Xie. Docking Characterization and in vitro Inhibitory Activity of Flavan-3-ols and Dimeric Proanthocyanidins Against the Main Protease Activity of SARS-Cov-2. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2020; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.601316

I don’t think this is a game changer but it is interesting nonetheless.

Vegan Diet and Fracture Risk (I’m confused too)

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet I’m sure the headlines caught your eye. But a 43% higher risk of fractures just seemed really high to me with a meat free diet as the cause. I found the following article online. Since most people nowadays can’t get past the headlines you’ll find the second paragraph completely ignored by the media.

Compared with people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average, had a 43% higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body (total fractures), as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs and vertebrae, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. Vegetarians and people who ate fish but not meat had a higher risk of hip fractures, compared to people who ate meat. However, the risk of fractures was partly reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.

The authors caution that they were unable to differentiate between fractures that were caused by poorer bone health (such as fractures due to a fall from standing height or less) and those that were caused by accidents because data on the causes of the fractures were not available. No data were available on differences in calcium supplement use between the different diet groups, and as in all dietary studies the estimates of nutrients such as dietary calcium or dietary protein are subject to measurement error. As the study predominantly included white European participants, generalisability to other populations or ethnicities may be limited, which could be important considering previously observed differences in bone mineral density and fracture risks by ethnicity, according to the authors.

Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures — https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/bc-vva111820.php

As I was gathering my thoughts the algorithms started doing what they do and this popped up in YouTube.

Let’s discuss the latest paper from the EPIC database. Excuse me eating while working. Not enough hours in day. Short version: this is a database from 90’s. Average fiber intake is 20 gm so not healthiest plant based eaters. Meat eaters got more vitamin D. Also (forgot to mention in video) used hormone replacement therapy up to 50% more. Both associated with stronger bones. Other studies have shown that plant based eaters have great bone health BUT you have to be healthy. Get dark greens. Drink or eat soy (studies show as good dairy for bones). Exercise and use resistance training. And take supplements if needed. I like multivitamins that have K2 as that may be a nutrient vegans are deficient in unless you eat natto 🤮. Definitely vitamin D if deficient. The EPIC Oxford cohort are not the healthiest vegans and vegetarians BUT have less ischemic stroke, weight less, generally better heart and less of certain cancers despite poor supplementation and diet habits.

Dr. Garth Davis YouTube post 11.23.20

I love it when someone else does the work for me. If you have eleven minutes listen to Dr. Davis’ analysis. I am now less confused.

Lower fracture risk with higher BMI because you have more padding when you fall!

Diets Don’t Work so Why Are More Teens Dieting?

Well, my first thought was Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) — https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd. But this is merely an educated guess from an insurance guy who has lost 200 pounds and not a trained licensed practicing clinical psychiatrist.

In 2015, 42% of 14-year-old girls and boys said they currently were trying to lose weight, compared to 30% in 2005.

Lead author Dr Francesca Solmi (UCL Psychiatry) said: “Our findings show how the way we talk about weight, health and appearance can have profound impacts on young people’s mental health, and efforts to tackle rising obesity rates may have unintended consequences.

“An increase in dieting among young people is concerning because experimental studies have found that dieting is generally ineffective in the long term at reducing body weight in adolescents, but can instead have greater impacts on mental health. We know, for instance, that dieting is a strong risk factor in the development of eating disorders.”

University College London. “Dieting and weight worries on rise in teens.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201116112855.htm (accessed November 21, 2020). — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201116112855.htm

And in case you made it this far on this blog post my estimated BMI at age 20 was 53.1. My current BMI is 25.1.