Research finds vitamin D is important for respiratory health

January 25, 2018 by Jess Reid, University of Western Australia
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study carried out by The University of Western Australia, the Busselton Health Study and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital has found vitamin D deficiency can contribute to poor respiratory functioning and health in middle-aged adults.

While it is well known that D plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis, the study suggests vitamin D may also play an important role in through its effects on lung development and structure, respiratory muscle strength, inflammation and immune response to respiratory pathogens.

The researchers measured serum vitamin D levels, and respiratory symptoms in more than 5000 baby boomers at the Busselton Healthy Ageing Study and found that low levels of vitamin D were associated with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and common to these conditions including wheezing and chest tightness.

Importantly the investigators also found that low lung function (Forced Vital Capacity or FVC) was significantly related to low vitamin D levels. Conversely high levels of vitamin D were associated with better lung function suggesting it plays an important role in maintaining good respiratory . The effect of vitamin D on respiratory health remained the same even when factoring in other aspects that contribute to vitamin D levels such as seasonal fluctuation, obesity and other chronic diseases.

The study found that the prevalence of serum vitamin D deficiency in the population was higher in women under the age of 55 and around 11 per cent of women and men were currently taking vitamin D supplements.

Lead investigator Dr. Siobhain Mulrennan said that with around 10 per cent of men and women currently identified as having low levels of vitamin D their findings paved the way for further studies to examine the effect of vitamin D on lung tissue.

"There is emerging evidence that increasing vitamin D levels either through lifestyle or supplementation can reduce asthma symptoms and severity among individuals with inadequate levels," Dr. Mulrennan said.

Professor Alan James said the study used extensive data collected on the enthusiastic participants of the Busselton Health Study to add further evidence for the observed link between vitamin D and lung function and respiratory health.

"Data and DNA samples collected in the ongoing Busselton Healthy Ageing Study will allow further studies investigating the genetic factors that influence vitamin D levels and the relationship to lung function and common respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis," he said.

Dr. Michael Hunter said opinion was still divided as to whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and COPD or is in fact a result of existing disease or its treatment.

"A follow-up study of these same study participants is currently underway which will allow us to investigate longitudinally the effects of vitamin D levels and relationship to the development of respiratory illness and associated symptoms, as well as other health outcomes associated with ageing," Dr. Hunter said.

Explore further: Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study

More information: Siobhain Mulrennan et al. Vitamin D and respiratory health in the Busselton Healthy Ageing Study, Respirology (2018). DOI: 10.1111/resp.13239

Related Stories

Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study

February 16, 2017
Vitamin D supplements protect against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Certain factors affect vitamin D levels in children with chronic kidney disease

June 16, 2016
Researchers have identified certain modifiable and non-modifiable factors associated with vitamin D deficiency in children with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical ...

Vitamin D reduces lung disease flare-ups by over 40 percent

December 1, 2014
Vitamin D supplements can reduce COPD lung disease flare-ups by over 40% in patients with a vitamin D deficiency - according to new research from Queen Mary University of London. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) ...

High quality evidence suggests vitamin D can reduce asthma attacks

September 6, 2016
A new Cochrane Review, published in the Cochrane Library today and presented at the ERS International Congress, has found evidence from randomised trials, that taking an oral vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma ...

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache

January 4, 2017
Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of chronic headache, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

Vitamin D won't guard against colds in people with asthma

December 11, 2015
(HealthDay)—If you have asthma, vitamin D supplements won't protect you against colds, new research suggests.

Recommended for you

Like shark attack and the lottery, unconscious bias influences cancer screening

August 17, 2018
What do shark attack, the lottery and ovarian cancer screening having in common? It turns out our judgments about these things are all influenced by unconscious bias.

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health

August 17, 2018
Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Phantom odors: One American in 15 smells odors that aren't there, study finds

August 16, 2018
Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences ...

US drug overdose deaths surge amid fentanyl scourge

August 16, 2018
US drug overdose deaths surged to nearly 72,000 last year, as addicts increasingly turn to extremely powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl as the supply of prescription painkillers has tightened.

Parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability

August 15, 2018
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that women whose mothers lived to at least age 90 were more likely to also live to 90, free of serious diseases and disabilities.

Widespread declines in life expectancy across high income countries coincide with rising young adult, midlife mortality

August 15, 2018
The ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is a key contributor to the most recent declines in life expectancy, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.

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.