High monthly vitamin D reduces respiratory infections, may increase falls for older adults

January 5, 2017

In people over the age of 65, acute respiratory infections—such as the common cold, influenza, or pneumonia—can lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

Older adults who live in long-term care facilities are at especially high risk for these respiratory infections because their immune response tends to be weaker than those living in other settings. Strengthening older adults' immunity could be one way to reduce their chances of contracting respiratory infections.

Because vitamin D plays an important role in immunity, researchers decided to find out whether high monthly doses of vitamin D could lessen the number of respiratory infections experienced by older adults living in long-term care facilities. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Participants in the study included 107 adults, aged 60 and older, who lived in long-term in Colorado. Half the group members (also known as the "high-dose group") who were already taking zero to 1,000 International Units (or IUs, a measurement for vitamins) per day of vitamin D and got an additional dose of 100,000 IU of vitamin D once a month. The other half of the group (also known as the low-dose group) received a placebo (a pill that has no effect and includes no active medication) once a month depending on how much vitamin D they took daily or monthly.

Researchers counted the number of acute respiratory infections needing medical attention (common colds, sinusitis, middle ear infections, acute bronchitis, influenza, and pneumonia) that participants experienced during the study's 12-month follow-up period. The researchers also counted falls, fractures, kidney stones, hospitalizations, and deaths during the study period.

The researchers reported that people in the high-dose vitamin D group had 40 percent fewer respiratory infections during the 12-month follow-up period compared to people in the low-dose group. However, the people in the high-dose group had more than twice the number of falls compared to people in the low-dose group.

The researchers concluded that a monthly high dose of vitamin D reduced the number of respiratory infections in older adults but increased the number of falls they experienced.

There was no link to increases in bone fractures in the study group. More study is needed to see whether daily (rather than monthly) dosing with high levels of D could help protect from respiratory infections and minimize the risk of falls, said the researchers.

This summary is from "High Dose Monthly Vitamin D for Prevention of Acute Respiratory Infection in Older Long-Term Care Residents: A Randomized Clinical Trial." It appears online ahead of print in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Patrick Blatchford, PhD; Keith Breese, MA; Lida Zarrabi, MPH; Sunny A. Linnebur, PharmD; Jeffrey I. Wallace, MD, MPH; and Robert S. Schwartz, MD.

Explore further: Vitamin D reduces respiratory infections

More information: Adit A. Ginde et al, High-Dose Monthly Vitamin D for Prevention of Acute Respiratory Infection in Older Long-Term Care Residents: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2016). DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14679

Related Stories

Vitamin D reduces respiratory infections

November 16, 2016
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that high doses of vitamin D reduce the incidence of acute respiratory illness (ARI) in older, long-term care residents.

Higher monthly doses of vitamin D associated with increased risk of falls

January 4, 2016
Higher monthly doses of vitamin D were associated with no benefit on low extremity function and with an increased risk of falls in patients 70 or older in a randomized clinical trial, according to an article published online ...

Vitamin D supplementation does not reduce rate or severity of colds, study finds

October 2, 2012
Although some data have suggested a possible inverse association between serum vitamin D levels and the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (colds), participants in a randomized controlled trial who received a ...

Increasing nursing mothers' vitamin D levels may benefit babies

August 30, 2016
New research from the University of Otago has found that giving breastfeeding mothers monthly high-dose vitamin D supplements may be a possible way to improve their babies' vitamin D status.

High-dose vitamin D supplementation not associated with benefits for postmenopausal women

August 3, 2015
High-dose vitamin D supplementation in postmenopausal women was not associated with beneficial effects on bone mineral density, muscle function, muscle mass or falls, according to the results of a randomized clinical trial ...

Vitamin D supplementation doesn't cut colds in asthma

November 18, 2015
(HealthDay)—Vitamin D supplementation does not reduce cold severity or frequency among adults with mild-to-moderate asthma, according to a study published online Nov. 5 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.