I've been taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day (to counteract bone loss) for several years now and so far have had no bouts of rejection following my lung transplant 9 years ago. Whether or not vitamin D is a factor remains to be seen but I plan to continue this daily regimen.
According to the Mayo Clinic the current daily recommended dose of vitamin D for adults 50 and older is 400 to 600 international units (IU). But they say many researchers believe that a higher amount is warranted because of the many health benefits. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a daily intake of 800 to 1,000 IU per day for adults over age 50. The upper daily limit considered safe for use is 2,000 IU per day, but there's debate about this level. Very large doses of vitamin D taken over time can cause ill effects, including nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss.
A recent study conducted by Loyola University Health System and presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting in October 2010, suggests that a deficiency in vitamin D contributes to an increase in lung transplant rejection.
With transplants, there is already the risk of the body failing to accept the organ. Vitamin D is thought to assist the immune system in recognizing the transplanted organ.
The study analyzed 122 lung transplant recipents who were patients at Loyola University Health System between January 2005 and June 2008, measuring their vitamin D levels after surgery. Of the participants, a deficency was found in 50%, while 18% had normal levels and 32% could not be calculated.
These figures correlated with the 51.7% of patients whose lung transplants were rejected within the first year. Researchers concluded that higher levels of vitamin D would significantly increase patients' chances for successful transplants. Future studies will explore the role of vitamin D therapy in lung transplant treatment.
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