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Do ICU patients die more frequently if they are vitamin D deficient?

Posted on: March 21, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


Dr. Jason McKinney and colleagues of the Eastern Tennessee State University and the Mountain Home VA Medical Center asked a simple question, do ICU patients die more frequently if they are vitamin D deficient?


The authors reviewed records of 136 veterans who were hospitalized in the intensive care unit and who happened to have a vitamin D blood level done a within a month of that hospitalization. No matter the reason for the hospitalization and no matter whether the vitamin D level was drawn before or after the hospitalization, the answer is yes, vitamin D deficient ICU patients are almost twice as likely to die. I particularly liked their tongue in cheek conclusion:

“. . . it appears current dosing does not satisfactorily address vitamin D deficiency in the severely ill.”

McKinney JD, Bailey BA, Garrett LH, Peiris P, Manning T, Peiris AN. Relationship between vitamin d status and ICU outcomes in veterans. J. Am Med Dir Assoc. 2011 Mar;12(3):208-11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333923

My advice is to have some 50,000 IU capsules from Bio Tech Pharmacal on hand in the house, in the medicine cabinet not the vitamin cabinet. If someone you love is in the hospital (not just the ICU) and they have not been taking adequate doses of vitamin D, give them 50,000 to 100,000 IU/day for the first 3-4 days of their hospitalization.


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