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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Relationship found between vitamin D, hospital mortality

New research published in The American Journal of Medicine has found an increased risk of all-cause mortality for patients entering the hospital with low vitamin D levels.

Past research has found a relationship between low vitamin D and increased risk of all-cause mortality. Whether the same holds true in the hospital setting is currently unknown. Since vitamin D likely plays a beneficial role in a wide variety of functions, the researchers theorized that there would be a relationship in the hospital setting.

Here in this study, the researchers, led by Dr Nancy Lange, developed a 23,603 person cohort from the Research Patient Data Registry, a computer registry that collects patient data from two Boston area hospitals. In their cohort, the researchers included people that were admitted to the hospital for a variety of reasons and had a vitamin D level drawn between 7 and 365 days prior to hospital admittance.

The researchers were primarily interested if vitamin D levels were associated with risk of mortality after 30 days of admittance. They also wanted to see if vitamin D levels correlated at all with in-hospital mortality or risk of bloodstream infections. Here is what they found:

  • The mean 25(OH)D was 27.9 ng/ml.
  • Those with levels greater than 30 ng/ml were least likely to die within 30 days of admittance. The odds of mortality for people with levels between 15-30 ng/ml were 1.3-fold higher, and 1.5-fold higher for people with levels less than 15 ng/ml, after adjustment for confounders.
  • Those with levels greater than 30 ng/ml were least likely to die at the hospital, too. The odds of mortality for people with levels between 15-30 ng/ml were 1.4-fold higher, and 1.8-fold higher for people with levels less than 15 ng/ml, after adjustment for confounders.
  • In a sub analysis, those with levels less than 15 ng/ml carried a 1.3 increased risk of acquiring an infection in the hospital compared to those with levels over 30 ng/ml.

All of these findings were statistically significant. The researchers concluded,

“In aggregate, these data demonstrate that pre-hospital 25(OH)D of less than 15 ng/ml is strongly associated with the odds of death and bloodstream infection in hospitalized patients.”

The researchers have no clear explanation for their findings, other than in previous studies, vitamin D has  shown to have a beneficial role a variety of different areas, including  keeping inflammation down, improving immunity, helping the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system and more.

However the study does have limitations. It is a cohort-type study, so it is not designed to prove that low vitamin D causes an increase in mortality. Rather, it is designed to show an association and help guide future research in this realm. Specifically, a randomized controlled in the future will provide better insight.

In the meantime, it appears that having a level over 30 ng/ml is associated with better mortality outcomes in the hospital setting, compared to lower levels.


Lange N et al. Pre-hospital Vitamin D Concentration, Mortality, and Bloodstream Infection in a Hospitalized Patient Population. The American Journal of Medicine, 2013

  About: Brant Cebulla

Brant Cebulla was a staff member for the Vitamin D Council from May 2011 to April 2014. He has keen interests in nutrition and exercise.

2 Responses to Relationship found between vitamin D, hospital mortality

  1. allometric24 says:

    I find it difficult to believe that the mean base level of vitamin D was so high in this study. The sun in Boston must be really potent or the citizens must be really health conscious with their supplements.
    I know that where I am at 37 degrees below the population means are likely to be around 45 nml. (18 ng US)

  2. Brant Cebulla says:

    allometric24, agreed, very high levels for a latitude as north as Boston. My guess is that there are more than a few doctors at these hospitals that regularly screen for deficiency and treat. 40% of the cohort had levels over 30 ng/ml. So this cohort is probably not a good snapshot of Boston. I would guess data on Boston levels are published out there somewhere, but I know I don’t have time to look!