Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent and has been associated with a diverse range of chronic medical conditions in the general population. In contrast, the prevalence, pathogenesis and significance of vitamin D deficiency have received little attention in acute medicine. Vitamin D deficiency is seldom considered and rarely corrected adequately, if at all, in critically ill patients. Recent recognition of the extra-skeletal, pleiotropic actions of vitamin D in immunity, epithelial function and metabolic regulation may underlie the previously under-recognized contribution of vitamin D deficiency to typical co-morbidities in critically ill patients, including sepsis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome and metabolic dysfunction. Improved understanding of vitamin D metabolism and regulation in critical illness may allow therapeutic exploitation of vitamin D to improve outcome in critically ill patients.
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