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Vitamin D levels may relate to delirium, new research says

Posted on: August 14, 2014   by  Vitamin D Council


A new study published in Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences found that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in patients with delirium.

Delirium is a state of severe psychological confusion that involves rapid changes in brain functioning caused by mental illness, physical illness, or alcohol or drug abuse. It may occur suddenly and may be only temporary.

Researchers have become interested in vitamin D’s relation to mental health after the discovery of vitamin D receptors in the brain. Recent studies have provided evidence for a role of vitamin D in mental health by revealing that vitamin D is associated with schizophrenia and dementia.

Researchers recently evaluated the neuroimaging results and previously measured vitamin D levels of 51 adults with delirium from three medical centers in Canada. Neuroimaging is the use of various techniques to create an image of the nervous system to examine its structure and function.

When they compared the results of the neuroimaging and the patients’ vitamin D levels, they found that 35 (68.6%) patients with delirium had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml, and 16 patients had levels above 30 ng/ml. A diagnosis of dementia was more common in those with levels below 30 ng/ml, with 5 diagnoses compared to 3 in those with higher levels.

The researchers conclude, “Clinicians treating patients with delirium may consider assessing vitamin D status and vitamin D supplementation.”

The study calls for prospective studies with larger sample populations to provide more conclusive results.


Bourgeois J. et al. Delirium and Hypovitaminosis D: Neuroimaging Findings. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 2014.

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