Background Current recommendations for the treatment of vitamin D deficiency vary from calciferol 800 IU per day to loading doses of vitamin D followed by maintenance therapy of up to 2000 IU per day.
Objective To assess the preparations and doses of vitamin D used to load and maintain patients with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) <25 nmol/l.
Methods We examined all requests for serum 25OHD over a 12-month period, from September 2009 to 2010 in southwest Scotland. We wrote to all 33 general practices asking whether they usually started replacement therapy with a loading dose and/or recommended over-the-counter maintenance preparations. We accessed the Emergency Care Summary for all patients with serum 25OHD <25 nmol/l to determine whether they had been prescribed maintenance therapy.
Results Serum 25OHD was requested in 1162 patients. Levels were <25 nmol/l in 282 (24%) patients, only 173 (61%) of whom were receiving vitamin D replacement therapy 3–15 months after diagnosis. Only four (1.4%) were prescribed a loading dose. One hundred and fifty-three (54%) were treated with cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol and 19 (7%) with alfacalcidol or calcitriol. The median dose of chole/ergocalciferol was 800 IU per day, usually in combination with 1200 mg calcium per day.
Conclusions We have shown a divergence between clinical practice and even the most conservative expert advice for vitamin D replacement therapy. Possible explanations are conflicting advice on treatment and difficulty obtaining suitable vitamin D preparations, particularly high dose vitamin D and vitamin D without calcium, in the UK.
- Internal medicine
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Medical Director.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.