Rapid correction of low vitamin D status in nursing home residents

Osteoporos Int. 2008 Nov;19(11):1621-8. doi: 10.1007/s00198-008-0619-x. Epub 2008 Apr 18.


This prospective study finds that ergocalciferol 50,000 IU three times weekly for four weeks effectively and safely corrects vitamin D inadequacy in nursing home residents.

Introduction: Low vitamin D status is common among nursing home residents and contributes to bone loss, falls and fractures. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of short course, high dose, oral vitamin D(2) (ergocalciferol) treatment.

Methods: This prospective study included 63 nursing home residents. The 25 with low vitamin D status (serum 25(OH)D < or = 25 ng/ml) received oral ergocalciferol 50,000 IU three times weekly for four weeks; the others received no change to their routine care. Serum total 25(OH)D, 25(OH)D(2), 25(OH)D(3), calcium, parathyroid hormone (PTH), bone turnover markers and neuro-cognitive assessments were obtained at baseline and four weeks.

Results: Mean total 25(OH)D concentration increased (p < 0.0001) from 17.3 to 63.8 ng/ml in the treated group and remained unchanged in the comparison group. Serum 25(OH)D(3) remained stable in the comparison group, but declined (p < 0.0001) with D(2) treatment from 15.4 to 9.1 ng/ml. Serum PTH trended down in the treatment group (p = 0.06). No treatment-induced improvement in ambulation, cognition or behavior was observed. No hypercalcemia or other adverse effects were observed with ergocalciferol treatment.

Conclusion: Four weeks of oral vitamin D(2) supplementation effectively and safely normalizes serum 25(OH)D in nursing home residents.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Ergocalciferols / therapeutic use*
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Ergocalciferols
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcium