Vitamin D deficiency may represent a modifiable risk factor to improve outcome in severe illness. The efficacy of high-dose regimens in rapid normalization of vitamin D levels is uncertain.


We conducted a systematic review of pediatric clinical trials administering high-dose vitamin D to evaluate 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) response and characteristics associated with final 25(OH)D levels by using Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, including reference lists of systematic reviews and eligible publications. Uncontrolled and controlled trials reporting 25(OH)D levels after high-dose (≥1000 IU) ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol were selected. Two reviewers independently extracted and verified predefined data fields.


We identified 88 eligible full-text articles. Two of 6 studies that administered daily doses approximating the Institute of Medicine’s Tolerable Upper Intake Level (1000–4000 IU) to vitamin D–deficient populations achieved group 25(OH)D levels >75 nmol/L within 1 month. Nine of 10 studies evaluating loading therapy (>50 000 IU) achieved group 25(OH)D levels >75 nmol/L. In meta-regression, baseline 25(OH)D, regimen type, dose, age, and time factors were associated with final 25(OH)D levels. Adverse event analysis identified increased hypercalcemia risk with doses >400 000 IU, but no increased hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria with loading doses <400 000 IU (or 10 000 IU/kg). Few studies in adolescents evaluated loading dose regimens >300 000 IU.


Rapid normalization of vitamin D levels is best achieved by using loading therapy that considers disease status, baseline 25(OH)D, and age (or weight). Loading doses >300 000 IU should be avoided until trials are conducted to better evaluate risk and benefit.

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