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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 22, 2022

Fueling the Immune System for the 21st Century

by Michael Passwater

OMNS (Aug. 22, 2022) Infectious diseases are a major threat to human survival and quality of life. In 1996, the World Health Organization raised concern regarding over 17 million people dying each year from infectious diseases. [1] That's over 46,000 people per day. In 2014 HIV/AIDS caused 1.6 million deaths, tuberculosis caused 1.3 million deaths, pneumonia killed 1.1 million children under the age of 5, infectious diarrhea killed 760,000 children under the age of 5, malaria killed 627,000 people, Rabies killed 55,000 people, and Dengue killed 20,000 people and made 400 million ill.

In the United States, influenza and pneumonia typically holds the #8 spot among the annual list of leading causes of death. In recent years, Covid-19 moved into the #3 spot with 385,676 deaths in 2020, 463,210 deaths in 2021, and 181,256 deaths so far in 2022 (306,000 annualized). Over 14,000 cases of Monkeypox have been identified in the US this year, and in July, a human case of Polio was identified in New York. Additional polio virus has been detected in wastewater. And in China, the first human cases of Langya henipavirus have been detected. The world is replete with harmful viruses.

Let's take a closer look at influenza. The influenza virus was discovered and isolated from ferrets in 1933. The first influenza vaccine was approved for civilians in the US in 1945. In 1947, it was determined that antigenic changes in the influenza virus had rendered the current vaccines ineffective. Drugs to combat influenza were approved in 1966 (amantadine), 1994 (rimantadine), and 1999 (oseltamivir and zanamivir). Nonetheless, pandemic flu outbreaks in 1957-58 (H2N2) killed 1.1 million people including 116,000 people in the US. And another pandemic flu in 1968 killed similar numbers worldwide and in the US. In 1980, 54,619 deaths were attributed to pneumonia and influenza, and in 2018, 59,180 deaths were attributed to pneumonia and influenza. [2] It might be fair to say that modern medicine doesn't have influenza figured out yet. The race for a "universal vaccine" continues, now joined by the race for a "universal vaccine" for Covid-19.

Nutrition Matters

Traditional medical school teaching suggests that if you eat a nutritious well-balanced diet, supplementing with specific nutrients is of no value - as useless as pouring more coffee into a full coffee cup. That oversimplified medical school analogy is misleading for several reasons. First, the definition of a nutritious well-balanced diet is vague and incomplete. Even the minimum recommended daily allowance of nutrients is inconsistent around the world, and is not achieved by many people even within wealthy countries such as the United States of America. Second, inflammation, toxins, and pathogens rob the body of nutrients, disrupt nutrient recycling and synergy networks, and add to the demands of the immune system's cells and other tissues to fight the illness and repair damages. Inflammation and pathogens can cause deficiencies in the levels of essential nutrients, and without the addition of more nutrients the body is susceptible to disease and death. Third, additional stress including cold temperatures, as well as physical and even mental exertion and distress, adds to the body's needs for essential nutrients. A sedentary cubicle worker does not have the same macro- or micro-nutrient needs as an Olympic athlete. We all have different needs for essential nutrients because our nutrient deficiencies, cellular demands, and biochemistry vary. As dynamic, productive human beings we must adjust our intake of nutrients according to our unique needs. This may vary by the day or month as we interact with society and the world to live our best lives. And interactions with ubiquitous infectious agents are a significant component of our needs for essential nutrients.

The wise saying of Helen Saul Case comes to mind, "Don't take chances, take vitamins." [3]

Vitamin C

Rather than the "full cup" analogy, Dr. Irwin Stone preferred the analogy of an army going into battle. This is particularly appropriate regarding fighting infections, for example, with the body's need for vitamin C (ascorbate). Dr. Stone suggested that trying to fight an infection without ample allotments of ascorbic acid available to all cells was like sending an army into battle without ammunition. [4]

In 1935, Claus Jungeblut, MD published "Inactivation of poliomyelitis virus in vitro by crystalline vitamin C (ascorbic acid)". [5] He suggested that ascorbic acid was an antitoxic and antiviral vitamin. Later Frederick Klenner and other doctors published many articles establishing the antiviral action of vitamin C. From 1948 to 1981 numerous case studies and case series were published by physicians in Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and Yugoslavia involving successful treatment of viral and bacterial illnesses with large doses of vitamin C injections. [6]

In 1949, Dr. Klenner wrote that it was "...difficult to understand how so many investigators could have failed in comprehending the one thing that would have given positive results a decade ago. This one thing was the size of the dose of vitamin C employed and the frequency of its administration." [7] From 2014 through the present, successful reports, case series, and a phase I safety trial have continued to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of ascorbate as part of the treatment plan in the settings of sepsis, Epstein-Barr infections, Zika Fever, Chikungunya Fever, Covid-19, and tuberculosis. [8] Dr. Klenner recommended injecting 4.5 - 17.5 grams of vitamin C every 2-4 hours (17 - 210 grams per day) to combat acute viral illnesses. Goats are capable of producing vitamin C, and typically make 13 grams per day when unstressed, increasing production up to 200 grams per day under stress. Gorillas typically eat 4-5 grams of vitamin C per day, and 15 pound wild monkeys average 600 mg vitamin C per day (40 mg/pound, or 6 grams for a 150 pound human). These facts point to grams rather than milligrams being the appropriate measure of vitamin C intake for humans, and to increase the dosage when stressed. For a more detailed discussion, see vitamin C Levels in Critically Ill Covid-19 Patients

Vitamin D

Sunlight and vitamin D were established as helpful against tuberculosis and other infectious diseases a century ago, [9,10] and the body of knowledge of its safety and effectiveness has grown rapidly in the 21st century as vitamin D became recognized as a hormone with strong immune and epigenetic influences. Previous OMNS articles have covered details of the benefits of vitamin D for a healthy immune system, including:

Additional evidence continues to emerge. Here are links to a recent clinical trial in Belgium, and a discussion of advice for rapidly correcting 25(OH)D levels to combat infections:

  • De Niet S, Trémège M, Coffiner M (2022) Positive Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation in Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Nutrients 14:3048,
  • Wimalawansa, S.J. (2022) Rapidly Increasing Serum 25(OH)D Boosts the Immune System, against Infections -- Sepsis and COVID-19. Nutrients 14, 2997.

It is important to consider vitamin D, magnesium, and selenium levels and bioavailable forms together as there are interdependencies between then, and each can be a rate limiting factor in many biochemical reactions. It is also important to balance vitamin D with vitamin K2 for optimal calcium management and overall health. Butter, fermented cheese, natto, eel, sauerkraut, chicken, and egg yolks are good sources of vitamin K2. Additionally, small amounts of vitamin K2 are also made by gut bacteria. The body may not get an adequate dose in some diets and during therapy with medications.

In the 1990s, the key role of selenium in some viral diseases began to spread in awareness. Selenium is scarce in many locations around the world. Selenocysteine is a unique amino acid and is the rate limiting component for the biosynthesis of selenoproteins important for antioxidant, immune, coagulation, and genetic functions in humans -- and also important to many viruses. Furthermore, the presence of adequate selenoproteins helps to stabilize viral genomes, minimizing pathogenic mutations. In low selenium environments, benign viruses have been shown to mutate into pathogenic strains which can then make even well-nourished people sick. The pioneering work of Professors Melinda Beck and Ethan Will Taylor is foundational for an understanding of virus - human genomic interactions. Summary articles for a deeper understanding of the roles of selenium in viral diseases and public health can be found here:

The knowledge of the tendency of viruses to become more pathogenic in malnourished, especially selenium deficient, hosts is sometimes exploited in gain of function (GoF) research. Multiple viruses with or without laboratory inserted genetic segments ("gene splicing") can be passed through many malnourished ferrets or other small mammals in a short period of time to see what combinations and mutations emerge. The ethics, politics, and definition of GoF research remain topics of debate. [11] Awareness of GoF practices is important for informed debate and policy. [12]

A note about Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Use of PPIs has been associated with faster healing of peptic ulcers and decreased death rates from gastrointestinal bleeding. However, PPIs disrupt healthy immune responses by altering the microbiome, inhibiting non-gastric H+/K+ ATPase ATP12A/ATP1AL1 in macrophages, natural killer T cells, and other immune cells, and decreasing absorption of magnesium. [13,14] Healthy digestion, including managing gastric reflux, is important. This topic alone may require much learning and intentionality to find the best solution for a given individual. Physical positioning after meals and at night, timing and size of meals, a healthy diet including plentiful colorful vegetables, cultivating a cheerful heart and a healthy microbiome, and exercise are all variables to consider. Fortunately, the efforts yield many dividends, as there is overlap of neuroendocrine feedback loops with many biological systems including the immune system. [15] What we eat and what we think has a major impact on our ability to fight infections and our wellbeing.


Pathogens remain a serious challenge to human survival and wellness. Optimizing nutrition and healthy habits remains an important first-line defense against illness, and also reduces pathogenic mutations in viruses. Furthermore, flexing up nutrient intake proportional to the scope of the pathogen invasion is an important component of treatment and restoration of wellness.

Suggested adult doses:

Vitamin C: 500-1000 mg, 3 times daily (more to bowel tolerance if sick)
Vitamin D3: 5000 IU/day (maintain plasma vitamin D level in the 40 - 80 ng/ml range)
Vitamin K2: 100 mcg/d
Magnesium 400 mg/d (in malate, citrate, chelate, or chloride form)
Niacin / niacinamide 200 - 1000 mg/day
Zinc, 20 mg/day
Copper 2 mg/day (along with zinc, in chelates orotate, or gluconate form)
Selenium: 100-200 mcg/day, as selenium yeast, selenite, or Se-methyl-L-selenocysteine

Resources for preventing and combating infectious diseases:

Orthomolecular Medicine for COVID-19 and Viral Infections

Riordan Clinic

D*Action Grassroots Health Research Institute

Dr. Ethan Will Taylor website & personal approach

Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance Prevention & Treatment Protocols for COVID-19 I-PREVENT, I-CARE, I-RECOVER, MATH+

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE PROTECTION AGAINST COVID-19: AN OVERVIEW Hospital studies support daily mouth-washing and throat-gargling with 1% hydrogen peroxide and 0.5% for nasal cleansing

Hospital Study Shows that Covid-19 Can be Prevented with Hydrogen Peroxide


1. Infectious diseases kill over 17 million people a year: WHO warns of global crisis. Jan 1, 1996.

2. National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics System.

3. Helen Saul Case

4. Stone, Irwin (1972) The Healing Factor: "Vitamin C" Against Disease. The Putman Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-50764-7.

5. Jungeblut CW (1935) Inactivation of poliomyletis virus in vitro by crystalline vitamin C (ascorbic acid). J Exp Med. 62:517-521.

6. Saul AW (2007) Hidden In Plain Sight: The Pioneering Work of Frederick Robert Klenner, M.D.

7. Klenner FR (1949) The Treatment of Poliomyelitis and Other Virus Diseases with Vitamin C. J Southern Medicine and Surgery 111:209-214.

8. Vilchèz C, Kim J, Jacobs WR Jr. (2018) Vitamin C Potentiates the Killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by the First-Line Tuberculosis Drugs Isoniazid and Rifampin in Mice. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 62:e02165-17.

9. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1903. Nobel Media AB

10. Williams C. (1849) On the use and administration of cod-liver oil in pulmonary consumption. London Journal of Medicine 1849, 1:1-18.[Google Scholar]

11. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, National Academies USA. (2015) Potential Risks and Benefits of Gain-of-Function Research: Summary of a Workshop. National Academies Press (USA),

12. Dance A (2021) The shifting sands of 'gain-of-function' research: The mystery of COVID's origins has reignited a contentious debate about potentially risky studies and the fuzzy terminology that describes them. Nature 598:554-557.

13. Lambert AA, Lam JO, Paik JJ, et al. (2015) Risk of Community-Acquired Pneumonia with Outpatient Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128004.

14. Jakab M, Hofer S, Ravasio A, et al. (2014) The Putative Role of the Non-Gastric H+/K+-ATPase ATP12A (ATP1AL1) as Anti-Apoptotic Ion Transporter: Effect of the H+/K+ ATPase Inhibitor SCH28080 on Butyrate-Stimulated Myelomonocytic HL-60 Cells Cell Physiol Biochem. 34:1507-1526.

15. Taub DD (2008) Neuroendocrine Interactions in the Immune System. Cell Immunol. 252:1-6.

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

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