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The economic impact of vitamin D deficiency

Posted on: December 2, 2015   by  Missy Sturges & John Canell, MD


A recent study determined that vitamin D deficiency is linked with a significant financial burden on hospitals and third party payers.

Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem, affecting at least a third of the population; though, some researchers believe an even greater number of people may be deficient.

Although many individuals who are vitamin D deficient present no symptoms at all, research has shown that low vitamin D status is associated with a prolonged length of hospital stay and an increased risk of mortality in critically ill individuals.

Despite the abundant research on the health implications of vitamin D deficiency in the hospital setting, no studies to date have evaluated the economic implications of this.

Therefore, researchers recently aimed to determine the relationship between vitamin D deficiency (< 18 ng/ml) and intensive care unit (ICU) cost, total hospital cost, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), myocardial infarction (MI) and total hospital stays. Critically ill patients with either VAP, or those who have had a MI (heart attack), may experience an increased length of hospital stay, cost of care and risk of mortality.

Here is what the researchers found:

  • Of the 565 patients, those with vitamin D levels less than 18 ng/ml experienced an increased incidence of VAP (24.3% vs. 15.5%, P= 0.024).
  • 6% of vitamin D deficient individuals suffered MI, compared to 2.8% in those with vitamin D level > 18 ng/ml (P = 0.031).
  • Those with low vitamin D levels stayed in the ICU longer than those with higher vitamin D levels (11.4 ± 0.95 vs. 8.11 ± 1.1 days, P= 0.03),
  • Low vitamin D status was linked with an increased ICU financial cost ($43,965 ± 3,683 vs. 31,274 ± 4,311, P=0.033) and Hospital ward cost ($29,780 ± 2,501 vs. 19,418 ± 1,923, P=0.005).
  • VAP and MI’s added $40,000 and $70,000 to hospital costs, respectively.

The researchers concluded,

“Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with a significant financial impact on hospital and third party payers. Further studies are needed to calculate the full economic impact on hospitals, states, countries, and third party payers.”


Sturges, M. & Cannell, JJ. Does vitamin D deficiency economically impact hospitals and third party payers? Vitamin D Council Blog/Newsletter, November 25, 2015.                  


Mathews, L. et al. 1300: Economic impact of vitamin D levels less than 18 ng/ml on hospitals and third party payers. Critical Care Medicine, 2015.

1 Response to The economic impact of vitamin D deficiency

  1. [email protected]

    If you are interested, there are 56 previous studies of cost savings with Vitamin D: http://vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page_id=7151, which include several by the same principal author

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