Recent review shows that high vitamin D status improves multiple surgical outcomes

Posted on: May 6, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD

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Dr. Cannell discusses a recent review that high vitamin D status helped prevent complications among surgical patients.

For a minute I thought I was reading something I wrote when I read,

“[there is] sufficient evidence to shift the burden of proof to those who believe that performing elective surgery on vitamin D deficient patients comports with the highest standards of patient safety and public health. Until such data is available, and in consideration of the low cost, safety and efficacy of supplementation of a nutrient (i.e., not a drug, foreign chemical, or blood product), we further propose that evidence is sufficient at present to support testing and supplementation to target levels as a practical default. We contend that learning whether it is safe to deviate far from ancestral levels of vitamin D in patients facing the trauma of surgery, and the demands of healing, is an overarching question, and that until this answer is in hand measurement and supplementation as indicated is preferred to the no-action approach of the status quo.”

That quote comes from a masterful review of studies of vitamin D levels and surgical outcomes by Drs. Igler and Hogan of University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Igler PJ and Hogan KJ. Vitamin D status and surgical outcomes: a systematic review Patient Safety in Surgery 2015, 9:14.

The authors found 31 studies that met their criteria and only 5 studies showed no effect of 25(OH)D on surgical outcomes. Twenty-six studies showed that higher 25(OH)D levels helped prevent every surgical outcome from infection (lung transplants) to cancer (kidney transplants) to death (cardiac surgery) to pain (knee surgery).

As quoted above, the authors believe that the time to act is now, and unless convincing evidence proves otherwise, natural vitamin D levels (>40 ng/ml) should be the target levels for surgical patients.

1 Response to Recent review shows that high vitamin D status improves multiple surgical outcomes

  1. D-fiant

    Thanks for the information, could it be we are heading to the day when doctors will, as general course, be getting their patient’s vitamin D levels up to meet health challenges?

    Thanks also for the nomination of the appropriate blood level. 40 ng/ml. Could we have the nmol/L values also shown in future articles by the VDC as there are a lot of international readers.
    I now tell everyone that they should getting their vitamin D levels to 100nmol/L (40ng/ml) as a matter of course and if they are fighting a serious health crisis then 150 nmol/L would be better.
    But nearly everyone ignores me. It hurts me greatly when I see friends with serious conditions, particularly with cancer.
    I lost two last year.
    I have a “bleeding heart” mentality and it is hard to sit and see someone you know with an issue and you want to go and say, “Vitamin D might help”.
    But then they look with great interest, and do nothing.
    I have developed a little saying for myself to shake my mind out of these frustrating thoughts.
    I say “Let them die” and I walk away.
    I spend days preparing emails with all of the links to scientific reports, but 99.99% do nothing, and frankly I am getting worn out with the effort for zero reaction.
    So I just have to “let them die” and I walk away with a heavy heart and my head low!

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