While visiting Pearl Harbor in 2001, I was browsing through some of the books in the gifts store when I noticed something amazing. There, in one of the books, was a picture of my Uncle Len enjoying a cigarette after their victory at Guadalcanal. It was great to see a glimpse of what he experienced during the war. Uncle Len, and my Uncle Bob, fought in most of the battles in the South Pacific. While they both survived, my Uncle Len brought home an illness that affects millions of people around the world — malaria.
As you may know, malaria is a tropical parasite introduced to your bloodstream by a mosquito bite. Drugs have provided some relief. I've talked about one of the most effective — artemisinin — in the past. But now researchers are finding that a two-nutrient combination can provide resistance to the disease.
In this study, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health followed 150 children aged 6 to 72 months in Ghana, West Africa. They divided the children into two groups. They gave one a placebo. And they gave the other a single 200,000 IU dose of vitamin A plus 10 mg of zinc. They gave this daily dose six days a week for six months.
Since there's no way to stop the exposure to malaria (disease-carrying mosquitos are everywhere in West Africa), this was a good test to see if the supplements could help. The results of the study were quite impressive. The group of children taking the supplements experienced a decrease in the prevalence of malaria of 34% compared to the placebo group. They also saw the parasite density and the number of fevers go down. And they also saw a decrease in the number of children with anemia in the supplement group.
While these results are impressive, they're not surprising. Your ability to fight malaria depends largely on your immune system. A strong immune system can keep most of the symptoms at bay. But a compromised immune system allows the symptoms to flourish. Heavy doses of vitamin A and a normal dose of zinc can boost your immune system and help it fight the disease.
Zinc plays a major role in immunity by helping with protein synthesis. And vitamin A is vital for your immune system to function properly. What many people don't realize is that vitamin A depends on zinc to metabolize. Without enough zinc, vitamin A won't work as effectively. Many researchers consider these two nutrients to be synergistic because they often find that when people have a deficiency in one, they usually have a deficiency in the other.
The question doctors have asked for years is why do some people exposed to malaria contract the disease while others don't. This study may solve that mystery. It's all about the immune system. A strong immune system can effectively fight the parasite. While a nutritionally compromised immune system can't.
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The nutrition during wartime was notoriously poor, allowing many of our soldiers to catch the disease. However, my Uncle Len was able to keep it at bay (with occasional flare-ups) once he returned to the States. So if you have malaria or visit/live in an area where malaria is a problem, make sure you take care of your immune system. Start by eating a very healthy diet filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Then add supplemental vitamin A (10,000-25,000 IU daily — don't take more than 10,000 IU if you're pregnant) and zinc (15 mg daily, with 2 mg copper). If you're taking Healthy Resolve, you're already getting a lot of vitamin A and zinc. However, if you have malaria, you'll need to boost your vitamin A intake up to the tested 200,000 IU daily. Make sure you're working with a doctor to make sure these levels don't cause problems. Most people won't have any problem with this dose.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
PS. I know many of my readers served with great honor in World War II and subsequent wars. And many of you contracted malaria. I thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you made. If this or any of the remedies I mention helps you fight this disease, I would love to hear about it. I would also love to hear your story. Simply send an e-mail to