According to the study, published by Dermato-Endocrinology, HAIs generate around $28.4 billion to $45 billion in excess health care costs each year in the US.
Low vitamin D concentrations are associated with diseases, such as respiratory infections, heart disease, and cancer.
Pneumonia, bacteremias, urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and sepsis are the most common hospital-acquired infections.
Vitamin D plays a significant antimicrobial role. For instance, it reduces local and systemic inflammatory responses as a result of modulating cytokine responses, reduces Toll-like receptor activation, and stimulates the expression of potent antimicrobial peptides, including β-defensin 2 and cathelicidin.
Cathelicidins are a family of peptides that are thought to protect against a wide range of potential microbial pathogens, such as fungi, mycobacteria, gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, at several different entry sites, including, mucosal linings of the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, skin, and some viruses.
According to the researchers, vitamin D strengthens the innate immune response by overcoming the antibiotic resistance of many bacteria encountered in hospitals.
Optimal vitamin D concentrations are at least 30-40 ng/ml (75-100 nmol/l). The team highlights that the average African-American has a vitamin D concentration of only 16 ng/ml, while the average white American has a concentration of 26 ng/ml.
Over the past two decades, vitamin D concentrations have decreased; this is partially due to people spending less time outside.
Approximately 50% of patients who have been admitted to hospital have concentrations below 20 ng/ml, thus making them more vulnerable to hospital-acquired infections, say the researchers.
They note that the rate of diseases, such as cancer, hip fractures, respiratory infections, and heart disease could be significantly reduced by increasing vitamin D concentrations among patients.
In an associated report, David McCarthy, M.D., suggests that giving patients a high-dose of vitamin D3 (5,000 and 50,000 IU) could help overcome vitamin D deficiency among hospital patients.
What is vitamin D?Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin, a group of fat-soluble prohormones. Vitamin D, among other things, encourages the metabolism as well as the absorption of phosphorous and calcium.
We know of five forms of vitamin D - vitamin D1, vitamin D2, vitamin D3, vitamin D4, vitamin D5. Vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) are the ones that matter the most to humans.
Further reading: "What Is Vitamin D? What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin D?"
Written by Grace Rattue