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Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Date:4/29/2009

Almost half of those in ICU had deficient levels, study shows

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Vitamin D levels are deficient in many critically ill patients, new research shows.

In a small study, Australian researchers found that almost half of people in an intensive care unit were deficient in vitamin D.

"Vitamin D deficiency is likely to be common in seriously ill patients," said study author Dr. Paul Lee, an endocrinologist and research fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. "In our study, 45 percent of critically ill patients were vitamin D-deficient. It appears that the sicker they were, the lower their vitamin D. However, it is uncertain whether it is just an association, or whether vitamin D deficiency itself contributes to disease severity."

Results of the study were published as a letter in the April 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body manufactures after exposure to sunlight, according to the U.S. government's Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Those that do include fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, cheese, egg yolks and some mushrooms. Vitamin D is also found in fortified milk and cereals.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 200 international units (IU) for adults under 50; 400 IUs for adults between 51 and 70, and 600 IUs for those 71 and older, according to the ODS. However, some experts believe these recommendations are too low, as vitamin D deficiency is increasingly being linked to adverse health outcomes.

Lee said that vitamin D is involved in controlling blood sugar levels, calcium levels, heart function, gastrointestinal health, defending against infection and more.

In the latest study, the researchers measured vitamin D levels in 42 people being treated in an intensive care unit. Almost half wer
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