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Vitamin D supplementation reduces need for respiratory support, study suggests

Vitamin D

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(NaturalNews) Researchers from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have discovered that inadequate vitamin D supplementation among surgical intensive care patients can increase the amount of time needed on respiratory support.(1)

The study, titled "Plasma 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels at Initiation of Care and Duration of Mechanical Ventilation in Critically Ill Surgical Patients," was published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN). JPEN is the research journal of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN).(2)

The study notes the following:

Limited data exist regarding the relationship between plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and duration of respiratory support. Our goal was to explore whether vitamin D status at the time of intensive care unit (ICU) admission is associated with duration of mechanical ventilation in critically ill surgical patients.(2)

Not enough vitamin D increases time needed for respiratory support among ill

The researchers analyzed data from a "prospective cohort study involving 210 critically ill surgical patients" to determine the effects that vitamin D levels have on duration of respiratory support. Ultimately, it was found that in such patients, "plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured on ICU admission were inversely associated with the duration of respiratory support."(2)

Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the result of the liver converting the vitamin D that one obtains from food, supplements and the sun. The amount of it in the body is considered a highly accurate indicator of a person's vitamin D level. Too-low levels are associated with a host of health problems ranging from osteomalacia, a mineralization defect in which bone mineral density decreases, to the development of certain kinds of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and fatal cardiovascular circumstances.(3)

Asthma, COPD among problems worsened by low vitamin D levels

Additionally -- and more pertinent to this particular study -- proper vitamin D levels have been linked to improvements in lung function, further reinforcing the importance of its supplementation.

Previous studies have delved into this very matter, with results showing that vitamin D plays a significant role in boosting respiratory health. One finding, for example, honed in on "the known effects of vitamin D on immune function... in relation to respiratory health." Its population-based study concluded that "Vitamin D appears capable of inhibiting pulmonary inflammatory responses while enhancing innate defence mechanisms against respiratory pathogens." In addition to boosting the immune system overall, vitamin D was found to improve lung function in those suffering from respiratory-inflammation conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).(4)

Supplementation, diet, key to getting more vitamin D

To ensure proper vitamin D levels, the Mayo Clinic says that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 600 IU. For adults older than 70, 800 IU of vitamin D should be consumed. Salmon, mushrooms and eggs are considered good vitamin D sources, as are supplements that come from a trustworthy source. Even better, supplements combined with foods high in calcium or a mineral supplement are believed to further bolster overall health.(5,6)

Being mindful of vitamin D levels is also essential not only when low levels are involved but also when too much of it exists in the body. Known as hypervitaminosis D, vitamin D toxicity can occur when a person has accumulated the vitamin in excess. While rare, it's a serious condition that can cause everything from kidney problems to nausea. Typically, too much of it in the body is due to taking it for longer-than-normal durations exceeding that which was indicated by a medical professional to treat the deficiency.(7)


(1) http://www.eurekalert.org

(2) http://pen.sagepub.com

(3) http://www.livestrong.com

(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

(5) http://www.mayoclinic.org

(6) http://www.naturalnews.com

(7) http://www.mayoclinic.org

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