Vitamin D Linked to Shorter Hospital Stays?

Chronic Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to longer hospital stays

In This Article

calcium supplementation sunset over ocean image

Studies find that communities of color experience more health issues than other populations. But why? One reason may be chronic vitamin D deficiencies.1,2

Darker skin requires more sunlight to convert UVB rays from the sun into pre-vitamin D on the skin. This pre-vitamin D is absorbed into the blood, liver, and kidneys to become active vitamin D3. Active vitamin D3 (calcitriol) plays a critical role in a healthy immune response. 

In one study, hospitalized patients were evaluated for vitamin D deficiencies. Out of 20 patients admitted to the ICU 85% of them were vitamin D3 deficient. Strikingly, 100% of the ICU patients less than 75 years old had vitamin D deficiencies.1 The study concluded that testing for vitamin D deficiency should be standard practice for those admitted to the hospital for any immune event.1 

Vitamin D is a powerful regulator of immunity and pathogen elimination.3 In addition, vitamin D3 regulates healthy T-cell, lymphocyte, and cytokine immune responses.4, 5 

Vitamin D Sufficiency Can Shorten Hospital Stay 

Dr. Ray Matthews, assistant professor of surgery at the Moorehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, has published a landmark study on the benefits of vitamin D.4 

His report shows patients with optimum vitamin D levels had shorter length of stays in the hospital, decreased hospital costs, decreased readmission rates, and longer lives. Dr. Matthews reports that the mortality rate drops 42% with critically ill patients by administering vitamin D and cuts the 30-day readmission rate by at least 50%.4,6 

He argues that the government’s current recommendation for normal levels of vitamin D at 30 ng/mL is too low, requiring all his hospital patients to be around 50 ng/mL. 

sun field vitamin d

The report goes on to say that all animals in the wild have vitamin D levels around 50 ng/mL. If the animals go into to captivity, however, their vitamin D levels plummet. 

According to his research, within the first 24-48 hours of being in the hospital, vitamin D levels drop by 50%. That means if you go into the hospital with a level of 30 ng/mL, your numbers can drop to a very dangerously low level of 15 ng/mL within the first two days. There was no explanation given for this observation. 

Vitamin D has many functions, none of which is greater than its support for immunity. Immune support is critical when entering a hospital or facing any challenge to the immune system. 

We recommend "Vitamin D Science and the Top 12 Foods You Need Now":

More Vitamin D Benefits at a Glance 

  1. The New England Journal of Medicine finds that risk of death for intensive care patients is 45% in those with vitamin D deficiencies, while only 16% for folks with sufficient vitamin D levels.7  
  1. As we age, risk of stroke rises.  There are roughly 7 million stroke victims a year in America or about 3% of the population.20 In one study, optimal vitamin D levels were associated with a 90% return to functionality after a stroke.8 
  1. Deficient Vitamin D levels have been linked to accelerated death of beta (insulin-producing) cells in cases of diabetes.9  
  1. In one study, low levels of vitamin D are associated with mood-related issues.10 Vitamin D receptors develop in the brain embryonically, suggesting that vitamin D is linked to neurological function. 
lifespa image, baby getting massage
  1. In a long-term study conducted over 11 years with 1,650 mother-child pairs, for every 10 ng/mL of vitamin D concentration in the mother’s blood during pregnancy, an 11% decrease in ADHD-like symptoms occurred.11 
  1. In another double-blind placebo study, 218 post-menopausal women were split into two groups. The group that supplemented with 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day had 37% less inflammation compared to the group that received the placebo.12 
  1. In a study from the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 961 female nursing home residents over age 70 were tested for vitamin D. The group with the lowest levels had a 49% increased risk of mortality compared to the group with highest levels.13 
  1. Vitamin D expert Dr. John Cannell has developed a theory that some immune issues are seasonal, due to variations in sunlight. These seasonal changes cause fluctuations in vitamin D levels.14 
  1. Vitamin D activates genes that support an immune response to foreign entities in the body.15 Vitamin D has also been shown to support respiratory health.16,17 
  1. In one therapeutic study, normalization of vitamin D levels was shown to significantly improve fatigue symptoms in primary care patients.18 
  1. In a two-year trial of vitamin D supplementation with 1,500 patients, healthy sleep patterns were linked to normal vitamin D levels. The most significant changes were seen when vitamin D levels were kept between 60–80 ng/mL.19 

What’s the takeaway? For general health, and specifically to reduce your hospital stays, make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels. If you have darker skin, you need to be particularly careful about this common deficiency. 

You can find a home test kit here and a liquid supplement here
We recommend "Your Vitamin D Needs Magnesium":


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