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Vitamin D helps kidney disease patients

Kidney disease patients who are prescribed vitamin D are less likely to die than those not taking the vitamin.

Vitamin D helps kidney disease patients

Kidney disease patients who are prescribed vitamin D are less likely to die than those not taking the vitamin. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is important for bone health, but several recent studies suggest that this vitamin may have other benefits, such as protecting against heart disease. The body makes vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish such as salmon, and milk is usually fortified with it. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, and in children it can lead to rickets. People with advanced kidney disease often take a form of Vitamin D to bring down high levels of a hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands in the neck that controls calcium metabolism. However, too much of the hormone can weaken bones. To see if vitamin D improves the health of kidney disease patients with severely reduced renal function, researchers in America studied 1,418 patients who had moderate to severe chronic kidney disease. All patients also had high parathyroid hormone levels, which is often caused by kidney failure. One group was being treated with the drug calcitriol, a synthetic form of vitamin D, to lower their parathyroid hormone levels. Another group was not taking the drug. During the follow-up for an average of two years, 408 (29 per cent) patients died and 217 (16 per cent) were started on long-term dialysis. On comparing the death rates, by adjusting for differences in age, kidney function, parathyroid hormone levels and other illnesses, it was found that patients taking the drug had a 26 per cent lower risk of death compared to people not taking the drug. They also were less likely to develop end-stage kidney disease, though there was higher risk of hypercalcaemia (high levels of calcium in blood). Further study is needed to see if vitamin D can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,
May 2008
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