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Study on vitamin D levels and MRSA carriers

Posted on: October 7, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD

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Methicillin resistant staphylococcal aureus (MRSA) is a major killer, because it is resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics. A major risk factor for the disease is whether you “carry” it in your nose. A recent study indicated MSRA is not resistant to natural human-made antibiotics.

From Norway comes a major study on staph aureus nasal carriage and vitamin D levels. Dr. Olsen and nine colleagues’ studied more than 3,700 people and discovered the lower your vitamin D level the more likely you are to carry staph aureus in your nose. The results, reported in August of 2011, were striking.

Olsen K, Falch BM, Danielsen K, Johannessen M, Ericson Sollid JU, Thune I, Grimnes G, Jorde R, Simonsen GS, Furberg AS. Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage is associated with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, gender and smoking status. The Tromsø Staph and Skin Study. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2011

People with levels above 30 ng/ml were 50% less likely to be S. aureus carriers. Not enough people had levels over 50 ng/ml to see if there was additional protection above 30 ng/ml, but the authors suggested that may be the case.

To quote Dr. Olsen,

“Based on our findings, we suggest that vitamin D can upregulate the antibacterial immune response and thereby prevent S. aureus colonization and carriage, and subsequent disease. . .Thus, our findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the incidence of methicillin sensitive and methicillin resistant staphylococcal aureus infections.”

The authors went on to say,

“Given the high risk of S. aureus infection in combination with malnutrition in specific patient population (i.e. surgical, dialysis, ICU, HIV), and the fact that most of the infections are caused by the patient’s nasal strain, our findings suggest that vitamin D repletion reaching serum 25(OH)D above 30 ng/ml may be a significant alternative in the prevention of hospital infections.”

I loved this paper because the authors were brave and clear: we need to raise vitamin D levels now, not in ten years.

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