A study appearing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology concluded that vitamin D supplements did not help treat anemia in patients on hemodialysis.

Earlier studies suggested that nutritional vitamin D supplements could improve erythropoiesis in dialysis patients, many of whom develop anemia. To assess the effects of supplementation on epoetin utilization, researchers from Tufts Medical Center conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial (n=276). The subjects had serum 25(OH)D <30ng/mL and were randomized to 6 months of vitamin D2 or placebo. 

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There was no significant change in epoetin dose over 6 months in the vitamin D or placebo arms (geometric mean rate 0.98, 95% CI: 0.94–1.02 vs. 0.99, 95% CI: 0.95–1.03, respectively) and no difference across the two arms (P=0.78). 

In addition, the study did not find any benefits with vitamin D supplementation for secondary outcomes. These included serum calcium, phosphorus, intact parathyroid hormone, C-reactive protein levels, cinacalcet use, phosphate binder or calcitriol dose. All-cause, cardiovascular, and infection-related hospitalization rates did not differ between the study arms, though researchers noted that the statistical power was limited.

Overall, researchers concluded that hemodialysis patients with vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency had an increase in serum 25(OH)D levels with vitamin D supplementation. However, no effect was seen on epoetin utilization or secondary clinical outcomes.

For more information visit jasn.org.