Dr. Ray Mathews and colleagues at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, just published a simple but elegant study. They wanted to know if vitamin D levels were associated with length of stay in the surgical ICU, how much the stay cost, and if vitamin D levels were associated with whether the typical patient lived or died.
Matthews RL et al. Worsening severity of vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased length of stay, surgical intensive care unit cost, and mortality rate in surgical intensive care unit patients American Journal of Surgery. published online 13 February 2012.
First, they looked at length of stay, finding that low vitamin D levels were associated with almost a threefold increased length of stay (13.3 days vs. 5.2 days). Then they discovered that low vitamin D levels increased total cost of stay from a low of $20,000 in the high vitamin D group to a high of $51,000 for patients in the lowest vitamin D group. Finally, and most importantly, they found mortality rates were higher in the group of patients with the lowest vitamin D levels.
Furthermore, they put all patients in the study on 50,000 IU/week. Sure, the authors called for more studies, but enough is enough for the surgeons at Grady Memorial Hospital. Their patients were going to get whatever vitamin D has to offer. This 50,000 IU/week was after they had their blood tested for vitamin D levels.
Unfortunately, the way it stands now, doctors cannot start correcting your vitamin D levels until you can eat. You may need vitamin D the most when you are unconscious. It is important that we start the process of getting a parental (shot) form of vitamin D in various doses for intramuscular or intravenous in the hospital drug store formularies.