Researchers have known for some time that vitamin D plays a vital role in protecting your lungs. In fact, they have found that, in some cases, it has helped smokers delay or even avoid lung cancer. But now there's new research that shows how this simple, inexpensive vitamin could save your life if you ever need extensive surgery.
The researchers in this study knew how important vitamin D is for your lungs. So they wanted to find out if a vitamin D deficiency negatively affected surgical intensive care patients. These are patients that have gone through extensive surgery that could be life threatening. They wanted to see if this deficiency increases the amount of time these patients spend on respiratory support.
This study was very simple. The researchers looked at data from a "prospective cohort study involving 210 critically ill surgical patients." They evaluated the vitamin D levels of the patients and then looked at how long they were on mechanical respiratory support. Here's what they found:
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The researchers said, "Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured on ICU admission were inversely associated with the duration of respiratory support." In English that means that the lower the patients' vitamin D levels, the longer they had to stay on respiratory support.
Staying on respiratory support can have its risks. Obviously, a nasal cannula, which is a thin plastic tube that delivers oxygen directly into the nostrils, doesn't have a lot of risk. But mechanical ventilation is a more invasive form. And it carries a higher risk of infection, oxygen toxicity, and adverse effects from excessive ventilatory pressures, volumes, and flow rates. It can even cause death. In rare cases, the ventilation can alter enzyme and hormone systems and cause nutritional problems. It can save your life. But no one wants to stay on mechanical ventilation any longer than needed.
Considering this study along with other studies that show vitamin D can help improve COPD symptoms, it's vital you keep your vitamin D levels high. You never know when you'll need life-saving surgery. So this is where you have to be ahead of the game. At a minimum, your blood levels should be above 50 ng/mL. Even better, keep them above 70 ng/mL. This can help your lungs fight off inflammation and help you breathe easier.
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Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.