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Sunshine's vitamin D is good medicine for critically ill patients

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Tel Aviv University researchers find vitamin D improves ICU patient survival.

Vitamin D could be good medicine for patients who are critically ill and in the intensive care unit, according to new findings from Tel Aviv University. Researchers discovered patient in ICU with low levels of the sunshine vitamin have shorter survival times in an observational study.

Low levels of vitamin D can interfere with immune function. Prof. Howard Amital of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center and colleagues conducted a 6-month study to see if there was any difference in outcomes between patients with low levels and those whose level was normal.

They separated patients in the intensive care unit into two groups – one group was vitamin D deficient as defined by the National Institutes of Health. The second group had adequate concentrations of the vitamin. The authors excluded patients who had taken vitamin D before being admitted to the hospital.

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Included were 130 patients. Among those, 107 had vitamin D deficiency – less than 20 nanograms.

Patients with adequate vitamin D in intensive care survived 8.9 days longer than those who were deficient. They also had higher white blood cell counts needed to fight infection. The message for health said Amital is that you shouldn’t wait until you’re sick to address low levels of vitamin. Either take supplements or seek sunshine. A simple blood test can determine if you are vitamin D deficient.

Tel Aviv University
"Can a Ray of Sunshine Help the Critically Ill?"
April , 2012

Image credit: Morguefile