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Vitamin D’s role in COPD and asthma

Vitamin D’s role in COPD and asthmaCOPD, a lung disease that is primarily a result of smoking, is one of the leading causes of death. Asthma, however, may also become life-threatening if it is left untreated. According to a meta-analysis published in Journal of Global Health, vitamin D supplementation may improve lung function in both diseases. The authors look at how vitamin D strengthens the immune defense and controls inflammation.

The meta-analysis included 11 randomized, clinical studies with a total of 1,183 patients diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and 19 randomized clinical trials with 2,025 asthma patients. Patients’ blood levels of vitamin D were measured as part of the studies. Also, their lung function was assessed by means of two different tests. One test, the so-called FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second) test, measures how much air a person can exhale in the first second of a forced exhalation. The other test known as FVC (Forced Vital Capacity) measures the total amount of air a person can exhale forcefully and quickly after inhaling as much air as possible.
The studies also included a number of other tests and questionnaires to assess the severity of the patients’ COPD and asthma.
The meta-analysis showed that supplementation with vitamin D had a positive impact on several parameters related to COPD and asthma. Patients with asthma who got supplements of vitamin D performed significantly better in their FEV1 and FVC tests, suggesting that their lung function had improved. This, however was not the case with the control group that got placebo. Vitamin D-supplemented patients with COPD scored better in the SGQT questionnaire (St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire), indicating that they had improved lung function. The scientists also observed that vitamin D supplementation could lower levels of IgE antibodies that are related to allergic reactions and constriction of the airways. They also observed lower levels of the two interleukins, IL-5 and IL-10, both of which are inflammation markers.
The scientists concluded that vitamin D supplementation is able to improve lung function and other parameters in patients suffering from COPD and asthma, especially those patients who are vitamin D-deficient to begin with.
The researchers also refer to studies showing that vitamin D supplementation during a woman’s pregnancy optimizes her blood levels of vitamin D and lowers the risk of the baby having asthma during its first years of life.

Vitamin D as add-on therapy for patients with COPD and asthma

Of all chronic pulmonary diseases, COPD is the most life-threatening one. Patients have difficulty with breathing because of local emphysema and bronchitis that damage and constrict their airways. COPD may also develop into more serious conditions such as pulmonal hypertension and acute respiratory failure. As of now, medical science has not found a way to prevent COPD from developing into more serious problems
Asthma is another chronic pulmonary disease that typically begins early in life and is characterized by chronic inflammation. In the case of allergic reactions, the body releases too many IgE antibodies, and this triggers the release of histamine and causes bronchial constriction.
Asthma symptoms can normally be controlled with medicine and preventative measures such as avoiding exposure to various allergens. Without treatment, however, severe cases of asthma can be lethal. The chronic inflammation associated with asthma is critical, which is why the disease is treated with corticosteroids. In some cases, it is necessary to use antibiotics to control the accompanying infection. Prolonged use of these drugs is associated with various side effects. Therefore, science is focused on optimizing blood levels of vitamin D with supplements due to the promising results.


Yuhang Wang et al. Efficacy of vitamin D supplementation on COPD and asthma control: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Global Health, Dec. 2022

Adrian R Martineau et al. Vitamin D for the management of asthma. Cochrane Library 2016

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