Simplified clinical trial

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People need vitamin D to stay healthy. Getting calcium from the diet into bones depends on vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels (vitamin D deficiency) leads to soft bones, fractures, weak muscles, heart and blood pressure problems, and may increase the risks of infections and cancer. People with kidney failure on dialysis often have low vitamin D levels for at least 3 reasons.

1. When kidneys fail, the body is less efficient at making its own vitamin D.
2. Foods rich in vitamin D are mostly restricted because of high phosphate or potassium.
3. Patients are usually asked to avoid excessive sunlight or wear sunscreen to avoid skin problems such as cancer.

Natural vitamin D is not usually given to dialysis patients, because doctors used to believe that the body could not use natural vitamin D unless the kidneys were healthy (and for this reason, the packaging of these vitamin D products often advise that they should be not be taken by patients with kidney problems). It turns out that this is not the case: the body does use natural vitamin D even in people who have no kidneys. This is why we now need to test if natural vitamin D is better or worse than the artificial and active forms of vitamin D treatments we currently use.