Volume 5, Issue 12
March 22, 2012

What every nursing home
patient must start taking today

If you or a loved one lives in a nursing home, you’re in serious danger of catching the flu or other infection. Some of these bugs are antibiotic resistant and can kill you. But a new study suggests there’s an inexpensive supplement that every nursing-home patient must start taking today to prevent these bugs.

A new report published this past week shows just how incredibly low the blood levels of vitamin D can get in women who live in nursing homes.

But this study isn’t just about vitamin D levels. It also shows how dangerous low levels can be. I found these numbers hard to believe, but then I don’t treat patients in nursing homes. So maybe there is just something about that environment that is conducive to vitamin deficiencies.

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The study looked at 961 women over the age of 70 from 95 different nursing homes in Austria. The women were mobile and were considered relatively healthy. The researchers measured their blood levels of vitamin D during the winter months of February and March.

Before I tell you about the study, here’s one quick note: The researchers reported the vitamin D units in SI units (nmol/L). These are the measurement values European researchers typically use. So for the purposes of this report, I am going to convert them to the units that we use here in the United States, ng/ml. For those who need to know, 1 ng/ml of vitamin D equals 1 nmol/L divided by 2.496. Here are the shocking results of this study.

The average level of vitamin D was 7.4 ng/ml. That’s the average! In my patients, many of whom are older than 70, I have never seen a single one with a level this low. But the numbers get even more staggering when you look at the breakdown.

Nine out of every ten women had a level less than 20 ng/ml. I consider a level of vitamin D less than 30 ng/ml severely deficient. Almost all of these women were blatantly deficient in vitamin D. In fact, anyone with a level over 10 ng/ml (a grossly deficient state) was in the highest quarter of vitamin D levels in nursing homes! The women in the lowest quarter of vitamin D had levels that were less than 5.6 ng/ml. And here’s the real kicker.

During a follow-up evaluation a little over two years later, 284 or 30% of these patients died. And those with levels of vitamin D less than 5.6 were 74% more likely to have died than those with levels greater than 10 ng/ml. Heaven only knows what the statistics might have been if some of these women had vitamin D levels that were even in the low-normal range.

Of course, these women were in nursing homes, which probably means that they did not get out much. This is especially true since it was winter. Also, since the measurements were taken in Austria in the winter, they would have received less sunlight even if they did get outside.

So please, if you have a loved one in a nursing-care situation, have their vitamin D level checked. If it is below 50 ng/ml, have them take enough vitamin D3 to get their level up around that number. They are very likely to live longer and be more comfortable. You can order a high quality vitamin D3 by following this link.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

Pilz S, et al "Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with increased mortality in female nursing home residents" J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2012; DOI: 10.1210/jc.2011-3043.

 

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