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Vitamin D Levels in the ICU

The sickest people that some endocrinologists see have very low levels of Vitamin D. The sicker they are the lower their levels. What’s your Vitamin D level?

Australian endocrinologists, specialists in treating diabetes, performed a prospective study of the vitamin D status in ICU patients referred to the department of endocrinology at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, between January 2007 and January 2008. The mean serum level of Vitamin D among the 42 patients they examined was 16 ng/ml.

Three of these patients died. Each of them had undetectable levels of Vitamin D.

The Australian endocrinologists published their findings as correspondence in the April 30, 2009, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Only the extract is free online. But I purchased the full-text for only $10.

The mean level of Vitamin D among those 42 patients was far too low. Scientists are calling for a serum level of 30 to 60 ng/ml, as I reported here earlier. Grassroots Health, which tested my Vitamin D, puts the recommended level as at least 40 to 60 ng/ml.

I’ve been taking 10,000 IU of Vitamin D for more than two years. GrassRoots Health reported my Vitamin D3 level as 81 ng/ml and my total Vitamin D level as 83 ng/ml.

“Vitamin D is very safe,” says Dr. Paul Lee, the lead author. “It’s inexpensive and has a very large safety window, making toxicity unlikely, unless there are underlying diseases causing high calcium. Giving vitamin D to severely deficient patients is very unlikely to cause harm. In addition, ICU patients are lying in bed for a long time, and are at risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. So if nothing else, Vitamin D will help protect their bones.”

Is your Vitamin D level high enough to keep you out of the ICU?

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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