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.

Vitamin D Treatment and Covid-19 Related Outcomes – Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain

In patients hospitalized with COVID-19, calcifediol treatment at the time of hospitalization significantly reduced ICU admission and mortality.

Nogués, Xavier and Ovejero, Diana and Quesada-Gomez, J. M. and Bouillon, Roger and Arenas, Dolores and Pascual, Julio and Villar-Garcia, Judith and Rial, Abora and Gimenez-Argente, Carme and Cos, ML. and Rodriguez-Morera, Jaime and Campodarve, Isabel and Guerri-Fernandez, Robert and Pineda-Moncusí, Marta and García-Giralt, Natalia, Calcifediol Treatment and COVID-19-Related Outcomes. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3771318 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3771318

Preprints are early stage research papers that have not been peer-reviewed. I am not a medical doctor nor a scientist and any comments I have on this topic should not be considered a peer review or medical advice.

Take Vitamin D supplements. Let the experts debate this until the end of time. See Does Vitamin D Deficiency Raise COVID-19 Risk? – JAMA. And as the debate rages, take your vitamins.

Another Reason to GET VACCINATED

Since the early onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the loss or distortion of smell and taste have emerged as one of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19, with an estimated 86 percent of mild cases displaying signs of olfactory dysfunction. In many cases, patients cannot perceive smells (known as anosmia) — and with it the nuances of flavor inextricable from aroma — or any kind of taste (ageusia). In others, the dysfunction eventually manifests as warped senses of smell and taste (parosmia and parageusia, respectively), rendering previously familiar scents and flavors rancid, like being assaulted with the overwhelming stench of rot, feces, and chemicals.

We Asked People Who Lost Their Taste to COVID: What Do You Eat in a Day? — https://www.eater.com/2021/2/5/22267667/covid-19-loss-distorted-taste-smell-anosmia-parosmia-symptom-food-diaries

Interesting set of short interviews with some long haul Covid-19 sufferers. Think about it. What do you eat when everything tastes like crap?

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Raise COVID-19 Risk? – JAMA

Despite Fauci’s recommendation and claims by many supplement sellers, conclusions about vitamin D blood levels’ connection to a host of diseases, including infections, cannot be determined because of mixed or sparse evidence, according to a recent report written for the US Preventive Services Task Force, which is updating its recommendation on vitamin D deficiency screening. The draft updated recommendation, like its 2014 predecessor, concludes that the evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of screening in asymptomatic adults for any reason.

Sorting Out Whether Vitamin D Deficiency Raises COVID-19 Risk — https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2775003

The comments to this JAMA article are as educational as the article itself.

But as the debate rages on, I’ll continue to take 1000iu D3 daily. It can’t hurt.

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 – 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.

Diet modifications (including more wine and cheese) May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline

Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments. The Food Frequency Questionnaire asked participants about their intake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and Champaign and liquor.

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:

Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;

The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;

Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and

Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

Iowa State University. “Diet modifications — including more wine and cheese — may help reduce cognitive decline, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201210145850.htm (accessed December 13, 2020).

Journal Reference

  1. Brandon S. Klinedinst, Scott T. Le, Brittany Larsen, Colleen Pappas, Nathan J. Hoth, Amy Pollpeter, Qian Wang, Yueying Wang, Shan Yu, Li Wang, Karin Allenspach, Jonathan P. Mochel, David A. Bennett, Auriel A. Willette. Genetic Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease Modulate How Diet is Associated with Long-Term Cognitive Trajectories: A UK Biobank Study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2020; 78 (3): 1245 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-201058

Finally some good news.

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.