Vitamin D Deficiency May Worsen COPD

Getting enough vitamin D may help with COPD symptoms.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Worsen COPD

By COPD Connect StaffCA Published at December 19 Views 6,101 Comments 2

A recent study published on the website Respiratory Research found a strong link between worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms and vitamin D deficiency. Researchers at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium conducted their study on mice. One group of the rodents was vitamin D deficient, and one wasn't. Each of these groups was divided, with half exposed to cigarette smoke and half to ambient air for several weeks.

The link between vitamin D and COPD

In the mice exposed to cigarette smoke, the vitamin D-deficient ones showed a much quicker decline in lung function than the ones that weren't vitamin D deficient. The deficient mice also had significantly more airway inflammation than the ones who had adequate vitamin D levels. Only the deficient mice began exhibiting symptoms of emphysema after prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke.

The researchers recommend further research to confirm the findings and learn more about the impact that vitamin D may have on patients with COPD.

In related findings, the Vitamin D Council says statistics in Finland show that people hospitalized for acute COPD attacks between December and May have a higher rate of death, possibly due to the scarcity of vitamin-D-producing sunlight in winter months.

A common deficiency

It's estimated that approximately one-third of the general population is lacking in vitamin D, reports Many aren't aware of their deficiency and don't believe they're at risk, since they eat vitamin D-fortified foods like milk and yogurt. But most adults don’t get enough vitamin D from their food.

The body manufactures vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. Part of the reason that the population is so vitamin D-deficient may be the increasing use of sun protection. In order to avoid sun exposure that raises our risk of skin cancer, people may unknowingly limit the body’s ability to make vitamin D.

People in colder climates or who live in areas with long winters have a higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency. More people in the northern regions of the United States are vitamin D deficient than in the South.

To make sure you get enough vitamin D, spend a few minutes in the sunshine (without sunscreen) every day and eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin D. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to take a vitamin D supplement.

For more on living with COPD:

Symptoms of COPD
COPD and Your Diet
Antibiotic Treatments Reduce COPD Attacks

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