Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone necessary to promote bone development and muscle health, prevent osteoporosis, regulate the metabolism for proper immune function and regulates calcium and phosphorous balances in the body. Since very few foods contain vitamin D, the main source of it is through exposure to the sun, taking supplements or eating foods that have been enriched with vitamin D. Once the body absorbs vitamin D through sun or food intake, the kidneys are responsible for converting it into a form that the body can use.
The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements states that most vitamin D deficiencies are caused by limited exposure to the sun, inadequate amounts of food intake, particularly dairy products, limited exposure to the sun, an inability for the kidneys to convert the vitamin D or problems with the digestive tract in absorbing the vitamin.
Vitamin D From The Sun
Kidney transplant patients have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers, particularly skin cancer, due to the need for long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs. Most doctors recommend that renal transplant patients minimize or avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, eliminating the most common means of vitamin D absorption. Several research studies have implicated vitamin D deficiencies in the development of many different types of cancer, making it imperative for transplant patients to turn to other means of providing the body with a sufficient supply of vitamin D.
After Kidney Transplant
It is usually necessary for renal transplant patients to take vitamin D supplements to lessen risk of hypovitaminosis D and promote bone and muscle health and other beneficial effects that may be associated with vitamin D. A study conducted in 2008 by the Copenhagen Hospital recommends that kidney transplant patients take daily vitamin D supplements in relatively high doses of 22–30 µg.
Vitamin D after kidney transplant procedures is a balancing act because of the important role the kidney plays in the vitamin’s conversion and absorption into the system. Supplements are necessary, but too much of the vitamin can actually cause kidney stones which can become problematic in transplant patients.
Kidney transplant patients that become Vitamin D deficit are also at a higher risk of other diseases and illnesses such as osteomalacia and osteoporosis. Other illnesses and conditions that have been associated with vitamin D deficiency are:
- Renal Osteodystrophy
- Heart failure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cardiovascular disease (prevalent amongst those with diabetes)
- Chronic pain
- Peripheral artery disease
- Periodontal disease
Too little vitamin D is not healthy for any individual as well as too much. Excessive vitamin D can be toxic which is why proper dosage and administration of vitamin D supplements for kidney transplant patients is very important.
Vitamin D Status in Kidney Transplant Patients :https://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/87/2/431
National Institute of Health: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind/