Nutritional vitamin D may have numerous functions in the body, outside of bone, and vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Preliminary evidence suggests that nutritional vitamin D supplementation may benefit dialysis patients by enhancing blood cell production, or erythropoiesis. This would be beneficial because many individuals with kidney dysfunction develop anemia, or low red blood cell levels.
In the largest randomized clinical trial to date on the effects of nutritional vitamin D in dialysis patients, Dana Miskulin, MD (Tufts Medical Center) and her colleagues found that vitamin D2 supplements taken for 6 months did not reduce dialysis patients’ need for drugs that stimulate red blood cell production.
“This study also did not find an effect of supplementing hemodialysis patients with nutritional vitamin D on several other secondary outcomes including parathyroid hormone levels, inflammatory markers, infection, or cardiovascular events, though the statistical power for these clinical outcomes was limited,” said Dr. Miskulin. The trial included 276 patients who were randomized to 6 months of vitamin D2 or placebo.