Researchers have discovered that vitamin D can help extend the lives of patients in intensive care.
In a six-month study, Dr. Howard Amital of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center and his colleagues found that patients who had a vitamin D deficiency lived an average of nearly 9 full days less than those who were found to have sufficient Vitamin D.
Vitamin D levels also correlated with the level of white blood cells, which fight disease, researchers said.
To measure the impact of vitamin D levels on the survival of critically ill patients, the researchers designed an observational study. Over the course of six months, 130 patients over the age of 18 admitted to an intensive care unit of a university-affiliated hospital and requiring mechanical ventilation were admitted to the study. Patients who had taken vitamin D supplements prior to admittance were excluded from the study population, the researchers noted.
Patients were divided into two groups based on vitamin D concentration: Those who had 20 nanograms or more — the amount defined by the National Institute of Health as sufficient — and those who were vitamin D deficient. Of the total, 107 patients suffered from vitamin D deficiency.
Patients with sufficient vitamin D survived an average of 24.2 days, while those who were deemed to be deficient survived an average of only 15.3 days. Patients with sufficient vitamin D were also found to have a better white blood count, the researchers said.
Amital noted further study is needed as the initial results indicate only that vitamin D concentration may be an indicator of survival. But he adds that people shouldn’t wait until they are ill before they start taking vitamin D, as it appears to enhance the function of the immune system in numerous ways.