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Treating Vitamin D Deficient ICU Patients with Supplements was not Beneficial

Update Date: Sep 30, 2014 01:31 PM EDT

Patients who have to stay at the intensive care unit (ICU) have an increased risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is most easily sourced from sunlight, which can be difficult to get from the hospital bed. In a new study, researchers set out to see if administering high doses of vitamin D could improve ICU patients' outcomes and found that these supplements did not help.

For this study, Karin Amrein, M.D., M.Sc., of the Medical University of Graz, Austria and her colleagues tested the effects of administering high-dose vitamin D3 to ICU patients. The team randomly assigned 249 ICU patients to the D3 group while 243 ICU patients received a placebo. The researchers measured length of hospital stay, length of ICU stay, hospital mortality and risk of death at six months.

Overall, the researchers found that patients in the D3 group and patients in the placebo group stayed at the hospital for about the same time at 20.1 days versus 19.3 days, respectively. The length of stay in the ICU was relatively the same as well in both groups. Patients from the D3 group stayed 9.6 days and placebo patients stayed 10.7 days.

In terms of hospital death, 28.3 percent of the patients from the D3 groups died whereas as 35.3 percent from the placebo group died. After the six-month mark, the death rates for the D3 group and the placebo group were 35 percent and 42.9 percent, respectively.

"Among patients with vitamin D deficiency who are critically ill, administration of high-dose vitamin D3 compared with placebo did not improve hospital length of stay, hospital mortality, or 6-month mortality," the researchers concluded according to the press release.

The study, "Effect of High-Dose Vitamin D 3 on Hospital Length of Stay in Critically Ill Patients With Vitamin D Deficiency: The VITdAL-ICU Randomized Clinical Trial," was published in JAMA and presented at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine annual congress.

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