Undiagnosed Vitamin D Deficiency in the Hospitalized Patient - Article

ABSTRACT: Vitamin D deficiency among hospitalized patients may be more widespread than realized. Vague musculoskeletal complaints in these chronically ill patients may be attributed to multiple underlying disease processes rather than a deficiency in vitamin D. However, the failure to diagnose an underlying deficiency places the patient at risk for continued pain, weakness, secondary hyperparathyroidism, osteomalacia, and fractures. The causes of hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia in the chronically ill patient are many, and the patient may respond to simple replacement therapy. Elderly hospitalized patients with ionized hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia, with or without an elevated parathyroid hormone level, are most likely deficient in vitamin D. Initiating treatment during hospitalization is reasonable once the diagnosis has been confirmed by finding a low 25-hydroxyvitamin D level. Treatment with high doses of vitamin D is safe. Unfortunately, some hospital formularies continue to provide multivitamin supplements that contain less vitamin D than currently is recommended.

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