Vitamin D Supplementation Reduces Infections, Antibiotic Use in the Elderly

An Australian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that supplementation with vitamin D reduces the risk of infection and use of antibiotics among seniors. The researchers reached their conclusion after analyzing the use of antibiotics among a group of 644 men and women (age 60-86) who were randomly assigned to take a vitamin D supplement or a placebo pill over a 12-month period. The daily dosage was equivalent to 2,000 international units (IUs).

Compared to the placebo takers, the data showed a non-significant reduction of having antibiotics prescribed at least once among the younger Vitamin D supplementers. But among individuals 70 and older, the difference was significant.

Access study here.

 My Viewpoint: Awareness of vitamin D deficiency as a widespread global phenomenon is gaining traction. The main reason for deficiency is that people aren’t getting outside enough to “catch some rays,” as they say. That means not enough sunlight to stoke the production of vitamin D in the body, where it functions more like a hormone, affecting many physiologic functions, including immunity. Moreover, people typically don’t get enough vitamin D from their diets.

 What this Means to You: Vitamin D supports the immune system. It promotes the availability and effectiveness of pathogen-killing cells as well as the production of a microbe-fighting protein called cathelicidin that protects the skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract, sites constantly exposed to germs. In general, the elderly have lesser ability to mount strong resistance against infections, so a study like this provides evidence of a potentially promising and safe remedy for a major challenge affecting the aging worldwide population.

 Recommendation: Research is accumulating that vitamin D supplementation can help the immune system combat infectious diseases, including respiratory tract infections among children and adults. It makes perfect sense to me to supplement with 2,000 IUs a day as well as to try to get some mid-day sunlight as often as possible.

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