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Vitamin D & Covid-19

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

MUSC World-Class Vitamin D Research Team to Study Connection to COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Medicine scientists and clinicians, led by world-renowned vitamin D research experts Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics, and Carol Wagner, M.D., a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and neonatologist, are planning a focused research effort to determine if individuals with sufficient baseline levels of vitamin D have more protection against severe COVID-19 infection.

Recent reports in the medical literature point toward a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and the pathogenesis of COVID-19 in certain patients. This information aligns with what Hollis, Wagner and other national experts have established in their own vitamin D research in at-risk populations – unrelated to COVID-19 – that vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent among African Americans and individuals with more melanin in their skin as well as in some elderly nursing home residents who have very low exposure to sunlight. In addition, effective vitamin D repletion can be accomplished safely and with minimal expense.

“Our team has the ability to determine vitamin D levels for COVID-19-positive patients and track that information to begin this work. This area of study is worthy of their expertise and efforts,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness that this due diligence is needed so we can potentially help particularly vulnerable populations in our community.”

To be clear, neither these studies nor MUSC are suggesting that vitamin D cures or prevents COVID-19 infection. However, the body of prior and emerging scientific evidence would suggest that individuals with low vitamin D levels who contract COVID-19, including African Americans and elderly nursing home residents, might experience worse clinical outcomes than other groups with normal vitamin D levels.

“It is important to study this topic to determine if recommending vitamin D supplementation for vulnerable populations can make a difference in COVID-19 outcomes. If valid,” Cole explained, “we would have an inexpensive, readily available strategy not only to help these groups of individuals but also the general population of South Carolina and beyond.”

MUSC scientists point out that recent COVID-19 and vitamin D studies suggest that at-risk individuals with historically low levels of vitamin D also had increased severity of COVID-19 infection and worse clinical outcomes, especially if the viral infection reached the lower respiratory tract. Certain cells located there are known primary targets of the virus, and if affected, it becomes harder for the lungs to initiate tissue repair and rebound from an infection, thus causing acute respiratory distress and the hospitalization of patients nationwide.

Hollis, Wagner and their team are rapidly pursuing clinical studies to validate or refute the clinical assumption that when patients have sufficient vitamin D levels, their immune responses to the virus’ primary targets are enabled, stronger and more capable of fighting off the most acute form of COVID-19.

“If we know that certain groups of the population are already at high risk for deficiency, and recent, valid studies suggest that increasing vitamin D levels might help prevent or lessen the severity of the disease, it would seem irresponsible to us as health care providers and scientists not to pursue this for our statewide and national community,” Wagner said. “We know vitamin D has a critical role in many functions of our overall health, so we have a responsibility to our families, neighbors, coworkers, friends and community to help answer this question.”

Essentially, the team seeks to replicate recent findings related to COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiency and explore the idea that patients might need to reach sufficient vitamin D levels through the appropriate clinical standard dosing of IV or oral supplements or, in some cases, simply get more exposure to sunlight. As the research effort matures, Hollis and Wagner plan to offer guidance on whether supplementation in certain individuals improves their clinical outcomes following a positive COVID-19 test. In addition, they hope to offer insight into whether vitamin D supplementation for all South Carolinians could improve their vitamin D statuses and mitigate the severity of COVID19 should they become infected.

“Our previous work has demonstrated that African Americans and other vulnerable populations can achieve vitamin D sufficiency through clinically validated supplements, which is a relatively inexpensive therapy that has a large safety profile when given in doses between 4,000 to 6,000 international units a day to adults,” Hollis said. “Some individuals with low levels of melanin in their skin can achieve better vitamin D sufficiency just by standing or sitting for 15 to 20 minutes in the direct sunlight each day that its possible, which is another easy way to address low vitamin D levels.”

Scientists know that vitamin D is present in very few foods, and typically at lower levels than what is needed for sufficiency, but it can be produced by the body when human skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, which triggers vitamin D synthesis. It promotes calcium absorption by the gut and helps strengthen bones. Additionally, vitamin D has been shown to play an important role in a number of other bodily processes like modulation of cell growth and differentiation and enabling proper innate and adaptive immune functions to fight off pathogens. It’s also thought to protect against some chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Hollis and Wagner have more than 60 years of combined vitamin D research experience, with a collective body of work referenced and replicated across the spectrum by institutions such as Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health. They have accrued thousands of citations and have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals on various subtopics around vitamin D deficiency and sufficiency.

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Bexar County Couple Offers Counseling & Mentorship Program

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Community-based counseling is happening at Ken-Lyn Consultants and Associates, a vision Dr. Kenneth Brown and Dr. Lynda Brown had years ago. The couple is now considered a family counselor and life coach duo. 

Ken-Lyn has been serving Bexar County since 2017 and has grown almost immediately from serving 3-5 clients weekly to serving 50-70 globally. One of their greatest accomplishments is their continuous “5-Star” ratings. Amazingly, of the thousands of clients that have chosen to write a review, they all have shared the same sentiment.  

Dr. Lynda Brown is a product of the East Side, where her father, Dr. Walter Duncan, served as one of the leading dentists to Black clients. Her mom, Dr. Joan Duncan, spent 40 years as an educator and professor. Dr. Kenneth Brown’s mom was an office manager, church leader, and pianist in Southern Maryland. 

The Brown’s services have taken them to faraway places such as Australia, Dubai, Italy, Hawaii, and Alaska. They travel to perform workshops and officiate weddings all over the country. The Brown’s business partner, Tiana Hill, is an Air Force veteran like Dr. Kenneth Brown. A University of Texas at San Antonio graduate, Hill develops all website and software programming, mentors the youth, and is also a parent in the program. Ken-Lyn’s associates and partners are specialists in their fields, such as nurse practitioners, military human resources, special education professionals, attorneys, doctors, pharmacists, information technology specialists, movers, mechanics, realtors, credit recovery, insurance brokers, and many more. 

Ken-Lyn’s vast array of services is “everything family.” Their youngest client is four years old, and their oldest is 86. They have assisted over 110 students to get into four-year universities, helping them earn over $5.2 million in scholarships. Their clientele is diverse, from local families simply trying to keep their child in school to West Coast entertainers, East Coast politicians, doctors, lawyers, police officers, active military and veterans. They also serve as educational advocates during 504/IEP meetings from the school conference room to the Texas Education Agency and the Office of Civil Rights as needed.  

Ken-Lyn Consultants and Associates has been where undergraduate psychology students come to “cut their teeth” and learn how to run a practice and market their services. As of spring 2023, 80% of their undergraduate interns have come from UTSA. Interns serve in the tradition of “camp counselors” as they aid students within the Ken-Lyn mentorship program. 

They say, “We monitor grades. We aid them with everything from hygiene, makeup application, grooming, and college prep to cleaning and organizing backpacks. We help our mentees to discover themselves, despite the possible odds and misunderstandings they may face daily.”

This spring, Ken-Lyn has a busy community schedule while serving clients daily:

  • Their office has recently expanded, and on March 23 at 6:30 pm, they will host a brief “Business Blessing Ceremony.” Dr. Otis Mitchell, pastor of Mt. Zion First Baptist Church, will officiate.  
  • On Thursday, March 30, the six-week “12 Steps Toward Communicating Better” workshop will conclude at the Windmill Ice House at 2769 Nacogdoches Rd, featuring artist Elizabeth Holmes and the Ken-Lyn Communicators Band.  
  • Their mentorship program will host female and minority pilots at the Boerne Stage Field, 100 Boerne Stage Airfield, on Sunday, March 26 at 5 pm. 
  • Other mentorship guest speakers this semester will include professionals in tech fields, professors, and adults who have turned their lives around for themselves and their families.  
  • Every semester, students in their program will tour at least two colleges. This semester, they will visit Our Lady of the Lake University and Texas A&M University at College Station.  

To learn more about Ken-Lyn’s services, visit (KenLynConsultants.com) or call 210-761-4345. 

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Community

Celebrating 100 Years – Saleta Rodgers

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On 26 February 1923, Saleta Wilson was born to Rev. Rufus and Odessa Wilson of San Antonio, TX. She was the second child of six siblings.

She attended pre-integration San Antonio Independent School District (schools: Cuney Elementary; Frederick Douglas Jr High and graduated from Phyllis Wheatly High School). Later she went to cosmetology school. Many San Antonians were grateful for her coiffeur skills. 

A lot of her early years were spent at church, where the Wilson children learned Biblical teaching and developed a love of singing. Saleta was a member of Mt. Zion First Baptist, Friendship Baptist, and Mt. Pleasant Baptist churches. Her father organized Antioch Baptist Church in 1935; she was a charter member. He later organized Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in 1952, where she is a charter member and still attends today.  

While serving in the military at Lackland AFB, Prince Rogers visited Antioch, where he met Saleta. In 1946 they united in matrimony. The union lasted until his death in 1989, almost 43 years. Upon completing his military service, the couple moved to Prince’s home, Mobile, Alabama, where two children were born, Kenneth and Jacqueline.  

Saleta was an active part of the church community in Mobile. Along with her duties as wife/mother/sewing for herself and others, she united with Mt Sinai of Whistler, Alabama, and was active in their Sunday school, choir, and Mission Circle. The family returned to San Antonio after four years.

Following her parents teaching, “Don’t send them, Bring Them,” she made sure her children had a spiritual base for their lives. While working in the beauty shop, she accompanied her children at church and their various activities. Wednesday night Bible Study was a routine family engagement. At any baseball/football/basketball game, she could be found in the bleachers or somewhere in the area. This chaperoning continued with her grandchildren. She was an active PTA member. She was involved in home, neighborhood, church, and community and even worked the polls on election days. 

Saleta is an excellent cook, but everyone’s favorite is her home-made  dinner rolls. There are many fond memories of fabulous dinners with family and friends. 

After retirement, Saleta worked as a substitute teacher for 14 years with SAISD. 

She has opened her home for some who needed a place to live. Through sickness, pain, agony,  headache, heartache, nursing, caring, and losses, Saleta has remained a devoted disciple of Christ. Through it, all of God’s business never suffered and was never cut short. As it gets late in her evening, her steps may be a little slower/shorter now, but she’s still about the Father’s business. She continues to believe “when praises go up, blessings come down.”

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Black Life Texas

A Crowded Mayor’s Race

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By Chris Dawkins

Feb. 17 was the deadline for candidates to file their intentions to run for an elected office. Election Day in San Antonio is Saturday, May 6, 2023

Below are the City of San Antonio Mayor and City Council candidates. In a later magazine issue, we will include other candidates for school boards and other municipalities.

If you are a candidate in Bexar County and would like to be included in future issues of Black Life Texas, please submit a (75 word) description of your candidacy to; (CandiCandidate@BlackLifeTexas.com).

Here are the San Antonio municipal candidates: 

Mayor (10) Candidates

Christopher Longoria, Ray Adam Basaldua, Diana Flores Uriegas, Ron Nirenberg*, Michael Idrogo, Armando Dominguez, Gary Allen, Christopher T. Schuchardt, Michael Samaiego

District 1 (10) Candidates

Sukh Kaur, Ernest Salinas, Jeremy Roberts, Lauro Bustamante, Mario Bravo*, Kaitlyn Folk, Roberto Rios Ortega, James Matthew Duerr, William T. Lamar-Boone

District 2 (10) Candidates

Carla Walker, Edward Earl Giles, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez*, James M. Guild, Denise Gutierez, Denise McVea, Wendell Carson, Patrick Jones, Rose Requeneq Hill, Michael John Good

District 3 (4) Candidates

Larry La Rose, Phyllis Viagran*, Jayden Munoz, Erin Gallegos Reid

District 4 (3) Candidates

Adrian Rocha Garcia*, Gregorio De La Paz

District 5 (3) Candidates

Teri Castillo*, Arturo Espinosa, Rudy Lopez

District 6 (2) Candidates

Irina Rudolph, Melissa Cabello Havrda*

District 7 (5) Candidates

Dan Rossiter, Marina Alderele Gavito, Jacob Chapa, Sandragrace Martinez, Andrew “AJ” Luck

District 8 (2) Candidates

Cessario Garcia, Manny Pelaez*

District 9 (5) Candidates

John Courage*, David Allan Lara, Jarrett Lipman, Dominque Lui, James Casey

District 10 (7) Candidates

Joel Scolis, Madison Gutierrez, Margaret Sherwood, Marc Whyte, Rick Otley, Robert Flores, Bryan R. Martin

* Indicates incumbent

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