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There is still a surprisingly small amount
of research on probiotics
Although the idea of beneficial bacteria has
been around since the late 1800s, and probiotic
supplements have been around since the 1930s,
there haven¡¯t been many human clinical trials.
We do know that probiotics produce enzymes that
help break down chemicals that the average hu-
man gut has a hard time with, such as the oligo-
saccharides in legumes. That digestive assistance
results in less gastrointestinal distress and better
absorption of nutrients.
Probiotics also elicit an immune response in the
intestines that can help your body deal with cer-
tain harmful pathogens and other GI problems.
There is actually a mechanism we learned about
called cross-talk where, through chemical signals,
the bacteria communicate with your body, and
your body communicates back.
The hard research, especially on recommended
CFU dosages, is minimal but expanding as inter-
est in the product does.
You can get probiotics (and prebiotics)
from certain foods
Some foods are made by the addition of bacte-
ria: yogurt, pickles, cottage cheese, kombucha,
and sauerkraut for example. And those foods
work to provide the same probiotic benefits as
supplements. However, most foods are so pro-
cessed and pasteurized that it¡¯s unlikely you¡¯d be
able to get enough to see the same benefits as
you would with a supplement, let along the right
strains. Regardless, it certainly can¡¯t hurt to be
getting extra probiotics through your diet.
You¡¯ll also want to get enough prebiotics too
Prebiotics are complex sugars ingested as fuel for
gastrointestinal bacteria. Some probiotics in-
clude them in the supplement, but the amount is
usually too small to make an impact, and you¡¯re
likely already getting enough in your regular diet.
There are tons of prebiotics that probiotics love
in whole fruits and vegetables, including onions,
garlic, bananas, asparagus, unpasteurized apple
cider vinegar and artichokes. If you¡¯re worried
you might not be getting between five to 20
grams per day (a bowl of onion soup), consider
taking a prebiotic supplement, usually a powder
or drink mix. Dr. Perlmutter recommends acacia
Keep up your probiotic routine and mix it up
The benefits you gain from your probiotic will
cycle through your body if you don¡¯t take them
regularly. Probiotics stick around for a while,
though for how long isn¡¯t precisely clear. You
have to keep taking them to continue to reap the
benefits. Further, getting a wide variety of strains
into your system is beneficial. ¡°Periodically mixing
up your probiotic supplement is also a good way
to ensure that you get different health-building
strains in your health regime,¡± says Dr. Michelle
Schoffro Cook (
¡°If you¡¯re seeking probiotics to
target specific health goals, look for
specific strain combinations. For ex-
ample, B. longum and L. helveticus
have been found to help with de-
pression while S. cerevisiae and L.
casei have been found to help with
allergies.¡± - Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook
Author of The Cultured Cook and The
Probiotic Promise
If you are interested in additional information
on how to identify the right probiotic formula for
your needs, then be sure to look at this very
exposure to the
same amount of
with only 400
IU of vitamin D
does not prevent
the deficiencies
observed in win-
ter time.
Research in the
last decade has
shown that vita-
min D helps our
immune system
fight microbes
by increasing the
activity and kill-
ing power of cer-
tain white blood
cells, as well as
increasing the
2018 February/March
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
amount of internally generated antibodies that
fight microbes, including viruses such as influenza.
Vitamin D and Respiratory Illnesses
People in Norway have very little seasonal varia-
tion in vitamin D levels due to high intake of
vitamin D in fish and cod liver oil, while people in
Britain have marked vitamin D deficiency in the
winter. Excess wintertime mortality is twice as
high in Great Britain as in Norway.
Melanin pigment in the skin limits the ability to
make vitamin D. African-American adults have
much lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians and
their mortality from influenza is much higher, while
African-American children have twice the pneumo-
nia mortality of white children.
Similar correlations lead me to suspect that vita-
min D may be responsible for many things, includ-
ing why:
Children exposed to sunlight are less likely to
get colds.
Cod liver oil intake reduces the likelihood of
getting viral infections.
Using UVB lamps in factories and schools
leads to reduced colds and flu.
Children given high doses of vitamin D have
less infections.
What to do to prevent the flu?
Avoid transmission of the flu by using alcohol
based hand sanitizers, cover the cough, and if
possible stay home from work or public gatherings
during the peak flu season. And, perhaps most
important, get your vitamin D level checked!
During the winter months, from the fall to spring
equinoxes, my children get 2000 IU of vitamin D3
daily while I increase my usual 3500 IU daily up
to 5,000 IU. Normal blood levels of vitamin D are
30-80 (ng/ml), with 10 the minimum to prevent
rickets, 34 the minimum to absorb calcium, and
up to 50 associated with greater neuro-muscular
While the pharmacologic potential and exact
mechanisms of vitamin D are just beginning to
be explored, from what I can determine is makes
sense to keep your winter-time vitamin D level
above 50 ng/ml, which is consistent with a natural
summer-time level.
There are
instances in
medicine when
a certain dis-
ease is found
primarily in
correlation with
another under-
lying disease.
For example,
pneumonia and
a rare cancer
called Kaposi¡¯s
sarcoma, occur
so exclusively in
AIDS patients
they are consid-
ered ¡°AIDS de-
fining illnesses¡±.
Perhaps a simi-
lar analogy can
be made be-
tween influenza
and vitamin D
deficiency, such that some day influenza may be
considered a ¡°Vitamin D deficiency defining ill-
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone
replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other com-
plex medical conditions. He is founder and medi-
cal director of the Integrative Medicine Center of
Western Colorado ( and Bellezza
Laser Aesthetics ( Call
970.245.6911 for an appointment or more
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Influenza: A Symptom of
Vitamin D Deficiency
Could the remarkable association between
influenza epidemics and the winter season be
explained by the well known deficiency of vi-
tamin D that occurs when the sun dips so low
in the sky that humans can no longer make
vitamin D in the skin? I think so, and science
is just starting to unravel this connection.
British physician Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson
was the first to propose a connection be-
tween influenza epidemics and the season.
He documented the fact that influenza out-
breaks all around the world peak just after the
winter solstice, are worse at higher latitudes,
and less severe at the equator except for the
rainy season when people were indoors. He
theorized a ¡°seasonal stimulus¡± related to the
direct solar radiation in the summer months
that protected us against influenza.
The influenza virus is present year round and
can be found in about 2% of humans at any
given time. Why is it, then, that influenza re-
lated illness occurs suddenly in about 15% of
the population right around the winter solstice
and virtually disappear during the summer
months? There is mounting evidence that
vitamin D deficiency might be the underlying
Vitamin D is made in the skin upon exposure
to UVB rays in direct sunlight. Multiple aspects
about vitamin D support it being the ¡°seasonal
stimulus¡± that Dr Hope-Simpson¡¯s theory pro-
Vitamin D has profound and multiple ef-
fects on human immunity.
Serum levels of vitamin D are low in
many people who live in temperate latitudes,
especially in the winter.
Inadequate vitamin D nutrition is com-
mon in the elderly who also only make about
25% of the vitamin D as 20-year-olds after
Did You Know?