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The U.S. should follow Canada's lead in H1N1 prevention research

Like the U.S., Canada is getting into the vaccine business.

Canadian health officials recently announced that the government plans to purchase more than 50 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine.

For each dose, the government will cover 60 percent of the purchase price. Which means that, like the U.S. and other countries, they’ll be vaccine marketers, looking to sell millions of doses.

But Canada is also pursuing something unexpected – way off the vaccine path.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently announced that PHAC researchers will examine the possibility that vitamin D supplements might help prevent H1N1 flu.

The agency already has a study underway to investigate the role that vitamin D plays in the prevention of seasonal influenza. The new H1N1 research will be adopted as part of that study.

And this research isn’t just a shot in the vitamin D dark. According to the PHAC, animal trials conducted more than 50 years ago showed that mice who were vitamin D deficient were more vulnerable to swine flu than mice who received high levels of the vitamin in their food.

This is a little mind-boggling. Imagine the FDA or the CDC conducting a similar study that could have the potential to push a vitamin supplement into the mainstream as a proven flu preventive.

It just doesn’t compute.

I’ll keep a close eye on this one and let you know how things go up in the Great White North.

“Canada Examines Vitamin D for Swine Flu Protection” Lorraine Heller, NutraIngredients-USA, 8/10/09,