Vitamin D may be your best defense against respiratory infections, new science finds

Vitamin D intake may help keep common colds and flu at bay, British researchers found. Various studies have previously established that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, and the recent analysis further emphasizes the vitamin’s role in boosting the immune system. To test this, researchers at the Queen Mary University of London pooled data from 25 separate trials with a total cohort population of 11,321 participants.

The research team found that vitamin D supplementation provided a modest protective effect against respiratory infections. Lead researcher Dr. Adrian Martineau said vitamin D supplements helped reduce the risk of developing respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu by 10 percent. Participants suffering vitamin D deficiency were shown to benefit more from supplementation.

According to researchers, vitamin D supplementation may help prevent respiratory infection in one out of 33 individuals. In contrast, flu vaccination may prevent infection in one out of 40 individuals. This suggests that vitamin D supplementation could be a more ideal preventive against respiratory conditions. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

Vitamin D’s protective effects seen in more studies

Vitamin D supplementation helped reduce respiratory infections in elderly population, according to a 2016 study. As part of the study, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus examined 107 patients with an average age of 84 years old. The patients were given either higher monthly vitamin D doses or lower daily vitamin D doses. The study revealed that patients who had higher doses exhibited a 40 percent reduction in acute respiratory diseases after a year. However, researchers stressed that the findings warrant further research.

“This finding requires a confirmatory trial…This is a potentially life-saving discovery. There is very little in a doctor’s arsenal to battle ARI, especially since most are viral infections where antibiotics don’t work. But vitamin D seems able to potentially prevent these infections. If our results are confirmed by a larger trial, high dose vitamin D, ideally using daily dosing to minimize fall risk, has the potential for substantial public health benefit through ARI prevention for the large and growing population of long term care residents,” wrote lead author Dr. Adit Ginde in ScienceDaily.com. The finding were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Another study revealed that higher vitamin D intake may cut the risk of respiratory tract infections. To carry out the study, researchers examined 140 volunteers who were given either vitamin D supplements or placebo. The researchers found that patients in the vitamin D group had a 25 percent decrease in respiratory tract infections at the end of the study period compared with those in the placebo group. The research team also found that patients who took vitamin D supplements reduced their antibiotic use by nearly 50 percent.

“Our research can have important implications for patients with recurrent infections or a compromised immune defense, such as a lack of antibodies, and can also help to prevent the emerging resistance to antibiotics that come from overuse. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be anything to support the idea that vitamin D would help otherwise healthy people with normal, temporary respiratory tract infections,” said researcher Dr. Peter Bergman in MedicalNewsToday.com. The results appeared in the journal BMJ Open.

A small study published in 2010 also revealed that vitamin D supplementation helped reduce the incidence of influenza A in children. To assess this, Japanese researchers examined more than 3oo children and found that the incidence of influenza-A infection was only 10.8 percent in those who took vitamin D supplements, compared with 18.6 percent in the control group. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Sources include: 

NaturalHealth365.com

BBC.com

NPR.org

ScienceDaily.com

MedicalNewsToday.com

ScienceNews.org

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