BACKGROUND Vitamin D deficiency is a common, potentially reversible contributor to morbidity and mortality among critically ill patients. The potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation in acute critical illness require further study. METHODS We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial of early vitamin D3 supplementation in critically ill, vitamin D–deficient patients who were at high risk for death. Randomization occurred within 12 hours after the decision to admit the patient to an intensive care unit. Eligible patients received a single enteral dose of 540,000 IU of vitamin D3 or matched placebo. The primary end point was 90-day all-cause, all-location mortality. RESULTS A total of 1360 patients were found to be vitamin D–deficient during point-of-care screening and underwent randomization. Of these patients, 1078 had baseline vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D level, <20 ng per milliliter [50 nmol per liter]) confirmed by subsequent testing and were included in the primary analysis population. The mean day 3 level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D was 46.9±23.2 ng per milliliter (117±58 nmol per liter) in the vitamin D group and 11.4±5.6 ng per milliliter (28±14 nmol per liter) in the placebo group (difference, 35.5 ng per milliliter; 95% confidence interval [CI], 31.5 to 39.6). The 90-day mortality was 23.5% in the vitamin D group (125 of 531 patients) and 20.6% in the placebo group (109 of 528 patients) (difference, 2.9 percentage points; 95% CI, −2.1 to 7.9; P=0.26). There were no clinically important differences between the groups with respect to secondary clinical, physiological, or safety end points. The severity of vitamin D deficiency at baseline did not affect the association between the treatment assignment and mortality. CONCLUSIONS Early administration of high-dose enteral vitamin D3 did not provide an advantage over placebo with respect to 90-day mortality or other, nonfatal outcomes among critically ill, vitamin D–deficient patients.
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