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Pneumonia and Vitamin D

Vitamin D Council
4/13/2010

Dear Dr. Cannell:

My 71 year old mother is in the hospital diagnosed with Pseudomonas pneumonia. Because she also has COPD along with years of prednisone use, her doctors have given her only a 5% chance of survival. The hospital is against patients taking any supplements without doctors orders (they kind of have a don’t ask/don’t tell policy on supplements), but they have prescribed her Vitamin C and zinc. But they failed to prescribe any Vitamin D.

Under my insistence, six months ago my mother had her vitamin D levels tested and found out she was critically low. So she has been taking 5,000 IU a day since then. But after finding out she had Pseudomonas, unknown to her doctors, I have been giving my mother 30,000 IU of vitamin D for the last 5 days (based on the studies I saw about Pneumonia and Vitamin D). The first few days she had a fever of 99+, but these last 2 days her temperature has returned to NORMAL. Needless to say, her doctors are astounded. They fully expected her to be near death now. But out of fear I am not planning on informing them of her Vitamin D intake unless/until after she fully recovers.

At any rate, I do not want you personal medical advice. But because you have studied Vitamin D so thoroughly, I wanted to ask you, based on the studies and research out there, is 30,000 IU enough for this? Does research show if it is safe or beneficial to take more for this condition? Is there any other cofactors that research shows would be beneficial as well? Really, what has the research shown?

Thank you for any information you can provide. It will be simply wonderful if Vitamin D actually ends up saving my Mother’s life.

Much kind regards and thank you for all you do.

Linda T., New York

Dear Linda:

Increase her dose to 50,000 IU per day and continue that dose until she is fully recovered and then reduce it to 5,000 IU per day. Doses of 50,000 IU per day should only be used by critically ill people; they are safe to take for many weeks. This is to be used in addition to her antibiotics, not instead of them.

There is no direct or even much indirect science to support my advice. However, I cannot fail to give my best advice and let your mother die. As far as co-factors, vitamin D needs many but magnesium, zinc, boron, and vitamin K2 are the ones most people are deficient in.

Good reason exists to think that the antimicrobial peptides that vitamin D upregulates (increases) will be effective in a wide variety of infectious disease that peaks in the wintertime, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

I hope your letter may have the effect of reaching others who may be in similar situations.

John Cannell, MD
Executive Director
Vitamin D Council

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