Nutrition for Immune System Health

Nutrition for Immune System Health (NISH) is an email discussion list with searchable (members-only) web archives for doctors, nurses, public health administrators, researchers and other people concerned about nutrition and immunity.  In the current COVID-19 crisis, our attention is naturally focused on the role vitamin D supplementation is likely to have in protecting millions of people from serious symptoms, lasting harm and death - and to reduce viral shedding and so the rate at which the infection spreads.  However, the scope of discussions covers many nutrients and health concerns.  Gut health and its effects on immunity, inflammation, depression, neurodegeneration etc. are also in scope, since some members have interests and expertise in this closely related field.

This list is for people with a serious commitment to understanding and/or facilitating research concerning nutrition and immunity.  Our members include seven long-time PhD vitamin D researchers in the USA and Canada, five of whom are MDs and one of whom has with strong connections with Sri Lanka. Other MDs include one from Indonesia who has published many articles concerning epidemiology, cardiology, diabetes and intensive care, a leading vitamin D outreach MD in Islamabad, Pakistan, an MD in general practice in Melbourne, Australia and a cardiologist in Hyderabad, India.  An RN in Chicago recently joined us.  She has a voracious appetite for research articles and assists her MD husband in their own clinic, treating COVID-19 patients there and in hospital.

Two nutritionists are members, one a PhD nutritionist in India and the other in Australia researching vitamin D levels, diet and UVB exposure for her PhD.  Researcher Henry Lahore, of is also member.  (Please note that is an unauthorised clone.)

For general information about vitamin D and COVID-19 please see my pages and other sites linked to from there, including and the Open Letter from 220 MDs and PhDs: .  Please also see the Vitamin D UK site, where you can find a link to an excellent late September 2020 video on vitamin D and COVID-19: , by NISH list member Rufus Greenbaum, with four contributors, including the world's foremost vitamin D researcher, Michael Holick MD.

The membership list and discussion archive are confidential to members.   Views expressed are assumed to be personal and independent of whatever organisations members may be affiliated with.

The NISH list is hosted at which has better archive and other facilities than those of other systems, including Google Groups.  List emails have a header [NISH] in their subject line.  Subscribers can turn off these emails and participate entirely via the web interface.  Although "group", "join" and "member" terminology is used, this is a discussion mailing list, not a set of people with particular ideas which must be adhered to, or which will make any public statements. 

Vitamin D is not the only nutrient required for proper immune system functioning.  COVID-19 with severe symptoms is one of many health problems caused by weakened and/or dysregulated immune responses.  The NISH list's scope includes:

  • Nutritional deficiencies and excesses (such as fructose) which lead to weak and/or dysregulated immune responses.
  • Immune function affecting health, chronic and acute illnesses etc. as well as illness affecting immune function.
  • Particular groups of people who may need more or less of certain nutrients for optimal health.
  • Research and clinical care regarding the above, including matters which affect this such as, for instance, obesity and genetic differences which increase the risk of illness. 
  • Etiology of illnesses, such as COVID-19 and how this is affected by immune system dysfunction, nutrients and common drugs such as alcohol an nicotine.
  • Absence of helminths (intestinal worms) leading to overly-aggressive immune responses which evolved when our helminths down-modulated our ancestor's immune responses.  Hence, helminthic therapy - though this is unlikely to be practical except for individuals with an acute need to reduce inflammation.
  • Organisational, public awareness and political aspects of advocating for better research and nutritional supplementation for most people, in all countries.  This includes reasons why clinicians and public health administrators might be wary of such supplementation.
  • Please use ng/ml for 25OHD blood level measurements rather than nmol/L.  D3 dosage in milligrams is good, with the equivalent IU value in brackets.  One of the problems with vitamin D supplementation is that "5000IU" seems like a lot, when it is a good intake (0.125mg) for normal weight people, and adds up to a gram every 22 years.

In April 2021 the scope of discussions was expanded to include the following broad fields, which are directly relevant to the global COVID-19 crisis and the related problems caused by suppression methods enforced or encouraged by governments.  Since nutrients offer alternative and arguably better means of treating and suppressing COVID-19, and since they are likely to affect immune responses to both infections and vaccines, all these are closely related to our interest in nutrition and immunity.

  • Immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and other similar infections and from vaccines for such pathogens. 
  • The degree to which vaccine and/or infection induced immune responses fade over time. 
  • The specific nature of these mechanisms, such as from particular types of antibodies or memory cells, and which epitopes of the virus they are effective against - such as spike vs. nucleocapsid proteins.
  • Observations and mechanisms of seasonality of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and severity, and of any other related viruses.
  • Observations and mechanisms driving differences between individuals, races, ethnic groups, countries and areas within large countries regarding susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.  Obesity, vitamin D levels, social customs, indoor and outdoors crowding are well known, but there could be other mechanisms including prior infections, nicotine as an anti-inflammatory, BCG vaccination status and exposure to helminths.
  • Adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines, with possible reference to other vaccines while trying to avoid entering numerous rabbit holes in the vast, general, anti-vax literature. 
  • Concerns, as researched prior to this pandemic, regarding "leaky" vaccination programs driving pathogen evolution towards more transmissible and harmful variants.
  • Problems with vaccines which are intended to fully suppress transmission of viruses which mutate rapidly.
  • Problems with vaccinating people who may already be infected with SARS-CoV-2 or any related pathogen, or who may be infected in the weeks which follow before the vaccine achieves its full intended immune response.
  • Current and likely variants of SARS-CoV-2, considering yeast-based research in which spike protein Receptor Binding Domains were evolved which include those with greater affinity in current variants (UK and Brazilian / South African).  These researchers found other genetic mutations which give rise to RBD affinities far greater than those found in early 2021 variants.
  • The origins of SARS-CoV-2 are worthy of discussion.   If - as it seems reasonable to hypothesise - it originated in gain-of-function research followed by a lab leak, this raises important questions about medical research and public trust of experts in arcane fields.  We need to know the enemy, and its origins may be completely different from zoonotic diseases in the past.  For instance, its evolutionary trajectory may be completely different from that of any prior virus.
  • Overt and indirect censorship of communications regarding nutritional approaches to health and disease prevention.  Indirect censorship involves non-government suppression of communications which are contrary to whatever governments declare are valid ways of discussing the crisis.
  • The role of pharmaceutical companies and other organisations in suppressing, ignoring and/or unreasonably criticising discussion of vitamin D, other nutrients and promising antivirals such as Ivermectin.  This includes picking the one (Murai et al.) study which showed vitamin D to be ineffective for hospitalised patients as if this was the only important research in this field, when dozens of other intervention and observation studies ( show positive results.
  • The profound questions which arise from the observation that only a small subset of MDs, nurses and other healthcare professionals are well informed about vitamin D (and other nutrients, but especially vitamin D) while the majority have not read the pertinent research, have no idea of vitamin D's role in autocrine and paracrine signaling in the immune system or of low vitamin D's role in Kawasaki disease.  The majority cannot imagine that this supermarket shelf vitamin is so important to immune system health and that so few people supplement it sufficiently to be replete.

The costs and harm from social distancing, lockdowns, business and social activity suppression, government monitoring and control of travel and activities are well known and need no further discussion.  Questions of masks, aerosol, fomite (surface) and fecal transmission routes are too far from our interests to discuss here, with the important exception of UV inactivation of viruses in outdoors aerosols, droplets and fomites, since this coincides with the rise in vitamin D levels in the summer and autumn months, and contributes to some degree to the seasonality of COVID-19, in a way which cannot be replicated by vitamin D supplementation.

Concerns about governments, companies and organisations using the pandemic to exercise greater control of individual lives are important, but beyond the scope of this discussion list.


The mailing list is for constructive, potentially detailed, courteous discussions - not a flurry of one-liners.  In order to maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio on the NISH list subscribers can use an Other Topics sub-list to discuss matters which are outside the NISH scope. 

Each new member's first message is moderated.  If you need help understanding or using the lists, please write to me at rather than to the NISH list.

Robin Whittle     Daylesford, Victoria, Australia

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