Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vitamin D and URIs

When all around the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw.
---William Shakespeare

Denver weather includes some wind, no snow, and no brooding birds sighted in our bushes. Lots of patients coughing in the waiting room, however, drowning in their own secretions, their throats, noses, and eyes red and raw. Colorado scientists, revisiting data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conclude, as have others before them, that a lack of vitamin D is at the heart of these viral matters(1).

They conducted a 'probability survey' based on six years of results looking for an association between a person's vitamin D levels and a recent personal history of an upper respiratory tract infection. Indeed, those persons with puny little D levels (<10 ng/ml) were nearly twice as likely to have had a recent viral URI as those with robust amounts of D on board (30 ng/ml or more).

To give you a notion of what's common here in sunny Colorado, I don't see one person in ten whose D levels break the 30 nanogram level. In many patients who claim to take at least 400 units of D per day in their multi-vitamin pills, levels hover in the low teens.

No one has time for a viral URI. If you don't want the problem, check and see if you have D problem; get your D level checked.
( 1) Arch Intern Med. 2009;169:384-390.


Ruth said...

I love the quote. I am going to check the lab pages of my patients to see if vit D levels are checked. I don't think so. Because of you, I have boosted my supplement for a few months now.

Reality Man said...

My solution? Plenty of sun, shun the shower.

Mauigirl said...

Hmmm. I always figured if I take the vitamin pill with the D in it, I'm good. And actually I seldom get URIs so maybe I am. I don't think my doctor tests for vitamin levels in the regular blood test. Maybe she should!

I also agree with Reality Man - a little sun never hurt anyone! Too many people are so freaked out about skin cancer that they never get any sun! Unless you've got that really vulnerable Irish type skin or burn in five minutes, it can't hurt to get a little unscreened sun, especially in the winter.