Vitamin D Insufficiency in Psychiatric Inpatients

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Objective. The extraskeletal effects of vitamin D have gained increasing attention with the discovery of receptors in a variety of organ systems. Previous work has identified associations between vitamin D insufficiency and a variety of mental illnesses, including affective, cognitive, and psychotic spectrum disorders. We attempted to determine the point prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency among psychiatric inpatients and determine if there was a relationship between vitamin D insufficiency and specific diagnoses and pharmacological treatments. Methods. This was a retrospective chart review of all adult patients (N=544) admitted to the psychiatric ward of a community hospital in central Illinois between December, 2010 and June, 2011. Results. The mean vitamin D level on admission was 22.3 ng/mL, with a range of 4–79.2 ng/mL. The incidence of vitamin D insufficiency (defined as levels < 30 ng/mL) was 75%. Of those with insufficient levels of vitamin D, only 37% received treatment. Vitamin D insufficiency was not correlated with age, gender, month of admission, length of stay, score on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale at admission, diagnosis, or psychotropic medication usage. Conclusions. Vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent in psychiatric inpatients. It is unclear whether this is the result of severe mental illness and resultant social isolation, or if vitamin D has a regulatory role on upstream genes involved in neural networks that influence affect, cognition, and perception. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2013;19:296–300)

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