French doctors prescribe over 350 different vitamin D supplement regimens, according to a new study.
Researchers in France wanted to examine what supplementation regimens were being recommended or prescribed in a specific French population. They knew that prescriptions and recommendations varied widely, but they wanted to quantify this variation and further understand trends of doctors and patients and their use of vitamin D.
They looked at data from 2008 – 2009 in the Extractions, Research, Analyses for Economic Medical follow-up (ERASME) database. This database includes all employees and their families from the Rhone-Alpes area equaling 6.1 million people.
Of the large database, they found 3,023 patients that received a vitamin D test, 1,311 of which they included in their study. The researchers then looked at the vitamin D supplement regimen prescribed after the test, and then collected data over a 7 month follow-up period.
Here is what the researchers found:
- In all, 81.6% received Stoss therapy [large dose(s)], 12% received mixed therapy (both Stoss and daily doses), and 6.3% received daily dose therapy.
- Falling into the Stoss category, thirty-two percent of patients were prescribed a single administration of a high dose vitamin D of either 200,000 or 100,000 IU shortly after the test.
- Out of the 1,311 cases analyzed, there were 370 different regimen supplements prescribed.
- The researchers found that higher use of mixed therapy was associated with increased age. Additionally, 93% of the patients receiving mixed therapy were female.
A little over half of the patients received additional supplementation after the first dose, whether the regimen prescribed was mixed or routine Stoss doses.
“To conclude, this work highlights the tremendous variability surrounding the practice of vitamin D supplementation in France, which represents a context of existing but debated recommendations,” the researchers stated. “In addition to this variability, our results suggest that no maintenance treatment was prescribed in half of the supplemented patients.”
The researchers noted that these results can only be generalized to countries with similar healthcare systems, socio-economic situations and latitude.
The researchers call for further studies to identify factors and reasons associated with these scattered supplement patterns.
Caillet, P., et. al. Vitamin D supplementation in a healthy, middle-aged population: actual practices based on data from a French comprehensive regional health-care database. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013.