Vitamin D supplements can reduce lung disease flare-ups by over 40 percent in patients with a vitamin D deficiency, show a clinical trial.
Flare-ups are when a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patient’s usual symptoms (coughing, excess mucus, shortness of breath, tightness in chest) get worse and stay worse, sometimes resulting in hospitalisation.
“Our research has shown how an inexpensive vitamin supplement can significantly reduce the risk of flare-ups for patients who are vitamin D deficient, which could have a major public health benefit,” said lead author Adrian Martineau, professor at Queen Mary University of London.
This is the first clinical trial to investigate the impact of vitamin D supplementation on severity and duration of COPD symptoms.
The trial included 240 patients with COPD in and around London.
Half of the patients received vitamin D supplements and the other half received an equivalent placebo.
Patients with a vitamin D deficiency benefited dramatically from taking the supplements but the striking reduction in flare-ups was not seen among patients who had a higher vitamin D status at the start of the trial.
However, researchers did find vitamin D supplementation modestly reduced the severity and duration of flare-up symptoms in all patients in the vitamin D group.
“Our findings suggest that patients with COPD should have their vitamin D status tested and should begin taking supplements if their levels are found to be low,” Martineau added.
The findings appeared in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine.