Vitamin D does not improve the metabolic health of patients with chronic kidney disease stage 3-4: a randomized controlled trial

Nephrology (Carlton). 2013 Jan;18(1):26-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1797.2012.01662.x.


Aim: To assess the impact of vitamin D supplementation (cholecalciferol) on the insulin sensitivity and metabolic health of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Methods: Twenty-eight adult patients with CKD stages 3-4 were recruited from the outpatient department of the Princess Alexandra Hospital (Brisbane, Australia) to a double-blind randomized trial of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) 2000 IU/day or placebo for 6 months. Metabolic parameters at baseline were compared with 20 non-CKD adults. The primary outcome was an improvement in insulin resistance (glucose disposal rate, GDR) at 6 months (quantified by hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp). Carbohydrate and lipid oxidation rates were assessed by indirect calorimetry.

Results: At baseline, patients were significantly insulin-resistant compared with lean younger non-CKD individuals (n = 9; GDR 3.42 vs. 5.76 mg/kg per minute, P = 0.001), but comparable with their age-, gender- and weight-matched non-CKD counterparts (n = 11; 3.42 vs. 3.98 mg/kg per minute, P = 0.4). 25-Hydroxyvitamin D did not change in the placebo group, but rose from 95 ± 37 to 146 ± 25 nmol/L with treatment (P = 0.0001). Post treatment, there was no difference in GDR between groups (GDR 3.38 vs. 3.52 mg/kg per minute, ancova P = 0.4). There was a relative increase in hyperinsulinaemic oxidative disposal of glucose with treatment (within-group P = 0.03).

Conclusion: Supplementation with cholecalciferol in CKD 3-4 results in appreciable increases in 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, but does not increase insulin sensitivity. The insulin resistance observed was similar among age-, sex- and body mass index-matched individuals with and without CKD. Whether renal dysfunction per se has any influence on the insulin sensitivity of an individual should be the subject of future work.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Failure
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Cholecalciferol