In this second instalment, we will consider the other key immune-enhancing minerals, along with the most important supportive vitamins.
Selenium – The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory liver supporter
Australia and NZ are second only to the African continent, in terms of inherently low selenium levels in our soils. If we truly are what we eat, then low selenium food from selenium-deficient soils will inevitably create deficiencies in consumers. However, there is a second player here. In a toxic world, where our two-stage detoxification system is working in hyperdrive, there is an associated, “unnatural” drawdown of selenium, to constantly counter free radical damage and detoxify contaminants. Consequently, most of us require selenium supplementation.
Your liver is the centrepiece of your two-stage detoxification system, and the most important mineral for the liver is selenium. Enzymes are, once again, involved. This time, it is the powerhouse cleanup enzyme system, glutathione peroxidase. This protective essential is based upon a working partnership between a bond of three amino acids, called glutathione, and the missing mineral, selenium. The cheapest (and perhaps most effective) tool to boost glutathione, is whey protein concentrate, as it delivers luxury levels of the three amino acid building blocks for the body to create glutathione.
The liver is an integral part of your immune system. In fact, it is key frontline immune tissue, ideally positioned to identify and help counter pathogens entering the body, via the gut. There appears to be a strong gut connection to this new virus. Dynamic interactions between the numerous immune cells in the liver are critically important for optimised immune function. So let’s look a little more closely at selenium, relative to this function.
Several studies have demonstrated that good blood levels of selenium are linked to enhanced immune response. In fact, selenium deficiency has been shown to harm immune cell function. In one study entitled, “The influence of Selenium on Immune Responses”, the authors summarise a body of research relative to enhanced immunity in the elderly, and viral protection associated with this mineral. They cite an example involving a viral-based heart disease (Keshan Disease) found in China, which is directly related to selenium deficiency. In fact, the primary treatment for this killer disease is selenium supplementation.
In another study entitled, “Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections”, there was a clear and powerful correlation reported between selenoproteins and protection (and recovery) from viral attack.
There are also studies relative to supplementation of selenium to improve lung function in asthmatics. This may suggest a benefit relative to the shortness of breath, which is a key Covid symptom.
So, what is the ideal dose rate for selenium supplementation, and what is the best form?
200 mcg of selenium per day is the required protective dose. However, if you would prefer to source your selenium from food, rather than a bottle, then the standout high-selenium food is the humble Brazil nut.
The Brazil nut contains around 25 mcg of selenium per nut, but it also contains the co-factors that increase selenium uptake. The most important of these uptake enhancers is vitamin E, which is found in luxury levels in this wonderful nut. The Brazil nut also features high levels of magnesium and zinc.
The best way to access the Brazil nut’s nutrition is to throw four nuts into your blender when making your green smoothie each morning. Most of us, myself included, do not adequately chew our food, and undigested Brazil nut pieces may turn up in your poo the next day. The micronising effect of the blender will ensure that you access and utilise the full spectrum of nutrients found in this, the healthiest of all nuts.
Iodine - Rescuing the Runt
Iodine is the fourth of the missing minerals that should be addressed to provide viral protection. The world became iodine-phobic several decades back, when misguided research suggested that iodine, then included in bread as a dough-softening agent, could create health problems. That now discredited research claimed that our overconsumption of bread, and the iodine it contained, had the potential to create hyperthyroidism. This unpleasant condition involves an overactive thyroid, producing bulging eyeballs, rapid heartbeat, anxiety and several other manic symptoms. Iodine was subsequently removed from the dough softener and replaced with bromide, but herein lies the problem.
Iodine is part of a group of interrelated minerals on the atomic table called the halogens. Other members of this group include chloride, fluoride and bromide. Iodine is like the runt of the litter, in the sense that it is seriously impacted by the other siblings. All three of these antagonists impact iodine uptake, but the biggest bully is bromide. Bromide is not just in our bread. It is a fire retardant chemical found in curtains, carpets, furniture and airline seats. Chloride and fluoride are in treated town water, and while you may have installed a carbon filter to isolate the chlorine in your drinking water, you are still sucking up both toxins via your skin when you shower. In fact, the hot water opens your pores to maximise that effect.
You may be wondering why your Iodine nutrition may need addressing. Iodine is the most important mineral for the health of your thyroid gland. It is required to ensure adequate production of thyroid hormones, and these hormones can directly impact multiple branches of the immune system.
These include, B cell proliferation, phagocytosis (immune cells engulfing invaders) and natural killer cytotoxicity. The thyroid also drives metabolism, which, in turn, helps energise the immune response.
Food-based iodine supplementation is best achieved with kelp supplements or with seaweed salads. A single sheet of dried kelp can provide over 1000 mcg of iodine.
One reason why kelp is such a popular livestock supplement relates to the potent link between iodine and reproductive efficiency, along with the iodine-based boost in animal resilience.
The other time-tested strategy for iodine correction involves five drops of Lugols Solution (available online from IHerbs or Piping Rock) in a glass of juice, for a minimum of three months. It is important, when supplementing anything, that you continue that supplementation for a minimum of three months. It usually takes several years to create a deficiency and it invariably takes several months to correct it.
The Fat Soluble Immune Enhancers
Perhaps the best researched of the immune enhancers is the fat soluble antioxidant, vitamin D3. Interestingly, we now know that this protective powerhouse is not actually a vitamin, but it is too late now to change the name. This substance, produced by our skin in the presence of sunlight, is actually a hormone with an intimate link to immunity. There are compelling statistics linking a shortage of vitamin D3 with significantly increased susceptibility to viral diseases, particularly those affecting the respiratory system. In a meta-analysis of 25 randomised, controlled trials, published in 2017, it was confirmed that vitamin D supplementation offers significant protection against acute respiratory infections. Studies have also shown there's an apparent association between low vitamin D levels and susceptibility to viral infections such as influenza.
Most of us would benefit from a D3 boost. A study in Queensland (the "Sunshine State"), found that the majority of Queenslanders were D3 deficient. It takes full body exposure for 11 minutes, seven days a week, during peak sunlight hours (10 am to 2 pm) to generate sufficient vitamin D. Most of us coat our bodies in sunscreen, or clothes, if we are fully exposed at these times, and this shuts out the good with the bad.
New research suggests that there is an important ratio between vitamin A and vitamin D that partially determines the protective performance of vitamin D.
The best supplement in relation to this ratio, comes from Nature (of course). Cod liver oil contains very high levels of both vitamin A and vitamin D3 in an optimum ratio. This oil also contains high levels of the anti-inflammatory workhorses, the omega-3 fatty acids. A teaspoon a day is good, but a tablespoon a day is the best protective rate.
The best way to take your tablespoon of cod liver oil is to combine it with the juice of a lemon. That way, there is no fishy taste at all and also no subsequent fish-flavoured reflux! Lemons are also alkalising and they offer several other benefits, including vitamin C.
My great friend and mentor, the late Jerry Brunetti, shared some US research involving high-dose vitamin A as a potential flu vaccine effect. I trialed it some years back, when bird flu impacted everyone at NTS. I was the only one who supplemented with large amounts of vitamin A, and I was the only team member who did not succumb. However, it can be dangerous to take high doses of this nutrient, so I will share a safe strategy, involving carrot juice, later in this blog.
Vitamin C - Understanding the Workhorse
Linus Pauling was the only person to win two Nobel prizes single-handedly. His second success came later in life, when his health had become significantly compromised. He attributes his subsequent recovery, and ongoing vitality, to his discovery of the profound benefits of high-dose vitamin C.
The human body does not make vitamin C. It must come from food or supplements. Water soluble vitamin C is rapidly excreted, so it makes sense to top up on a daily basis. This is particularly important as we age. Several studies have revealed lower blood levels of this key defence vitamin, associated with the aging process. This is possibly related to an increasingly oxidative environment linked to more inflammation, and perhaps the accumulated toxicity associated with aging.
Vitamin C is the workhorse of your two-stage detoxification system and, in a world with 74,000 registered chemicals, this system often requires support. In fact, it could be strongly argued that you could peel oranges until your wrists seize, and still struggle to supply sufficient natural vitamin C, to counter this unnatural free radical stress.
I believe all of us should supplement vitamin C on a daily basis. Let’s look at the link to immunity.
Our immune capacity is based upon our inherited, innate immune system, which is the luck of the draw, and our adaptive system, developed in the first two decades of life. Both systems become less efficient in the absence of sufficient vitamin C. It is illuminating to look at the link between blood levels of vitamin C in healthy individuals vs the levels found in those suffering diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and pneumonia. The blood levels are typically 50% lower in the health-challenged. This could be related to the increased oxidative stress associated with these diseases, or it could be a major contributing factor to the onset of illness. Either way, it makes perfect sense to ensure you optimise your levels at all times.
Vitamin C offers critically important support for the cells that kill invaders and the cells that coordinate those attacks. It is equally important for the production of antibodies that fight known infections.
Aging involves immunosenescence (the aging of the immune system), and it has become abundantly clear, in this current pandemic, that the baby boomers are most at risk. As mentioned earlier, I consider it to be gross negligence that the modern medical machine is not advising well-researched immune-enhancing protective strategies at this time. I recently heard a UK professor claiming that high-dose vitamin C therapy lacked research. For goodness sake! How many published papers do you want, you ill-informed wanker! Sorry, but I get so angry about such stupidity in the face of this huge challenge.
The membranes of immune cells are fitted with specialised transporter molecules designed to pump this vitamin into the cell, whenever more is required. During times of inflammation and infection, those transporters ramp up their activity, to the extent that immune cells will contain up to 100-fold more vitamin C than your blood. That is why blood levels of vitamin C always drop when you are ill, and it is common sense that it is a highly productive strategy to top up at this point.
Immune cells vary in their content of vitamin C, but the hungriest of those protector cells are the phagocytes and the T-lymphocytes. Phagocytes engulf and destroy invading organisms, while the T-lymphocytes recruit, organise, and direct other immune cells.
There are multiple studies confirming the capacity of vitamin C to boost immunity, hence my annoyance at the unacceptable ignorance of the UK academic.
Here is a small collection of examples, relative to the use of vitamin C in treating and preventing respiratory symptoms. A review of vitamin C studies published in Military Medicine found a 45 – 91% reduction in the symptoms of common cold associated with supplementation. In this context, the more exciting finding from this meta-analysis was a 80 – 100% reduction in pneumonia.
Several other studies have shown that vitamin C can block the sepsis-induced process. This is the phenomenon where immune-mediated inflammatory molecules accumulate in the lungs and destroy lung function. This is a common outcome for those many souls succumbing to this disease.
It is this kind of research, along with many other studies that has prompted a new article published in the prestigious The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, where high-dose vitamin C is suggested as a rescue therapy for those with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), caused by Covid-19.
In China, a large scale study was initiated on February 14, and it will conclude on September 30. This study is called "Vitamin C Infusion for the Treatment of Severe 2019-nCoV Infected Pneumonia". This trial was inspired by the experiences of several Chinese physicians, who successfully used high-dose vitamin C in their treatment protocols for the pandemic.
Vitamin C Pointers
If you have now recognised the critical importance of this vitamin for immune support, then the next questions might relate to optimum dosage and the most effective forms of this key nutrient.
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is just 90 mg per day, but this is woefully inadequate if we are seeking plague protection. It is now generally accepted that a minimum of 1000 mg (1 gram) per day is required to maintain immunity, but, if you are facing a specific challenge, then that rate can be increased to as much as 10,000 mg (10 grams) per day, in split oral doses. In fact, intravenous vitamin C as cancer treatment can involve as much as 25 grams per day.
I personally favour a protective dose rate of 3000 mg per day, equally divided in two doses – i.e., 1500 mg in the morning and 1500 mg at night.
A oral dosage rate of 10,000 mg per day should be split into three doses of 3,350 mg, taken with each meal.
There are two key factors to consider when choosing the most effective oral vitamin C supplement:
1) The supplement should always contain bioflavonoids, as vitamin C is much better absorbed in the presence of these antioxidants. It is no accident that bioflavonoids are present at high rates in fresh produce containing high levels of vitamin C.
2) Vitamin C supplements should also feature full buffering with a mineral complex, to try to mimic nature. Raw, high dose ascorbic acid can actually be quite harsh on beneficial gut organisms. In fact, it is often actually used as a stabiliser in commercial bread.
Liposomal vitamin C is expensive, but it is particularly well absorbed and utilised. I discussed the mechanics of liposomal delivery earlier in this article. This involves the delivery of the desired nutraceutical, embedded within tiny fat bubbles (phospholipids), that are rapidly embraced by our phospholipid-based cell membranes. It is a case of “like attracts like”. Liposomal vitamin C is much more readily available in the marketplace than liposomal zinc, However, as increasing numbers of people become aware of it’s protective potential, relative to the current crisis, it might be a little harder than normal to source.
In the final instalment of this blog, I will be taking an in-depth look at key plant-based players in an immune-enhancing regime. I will also describe my own daily practice to create optimal immune capacity, should it be required.
I wish you all a wonderful Easter, despite the limitations.
Stay happy and healthy.