Vitamin D supplements don’t seem to help most patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D has been said to help fight inflammation of the lungs in patients with COPD. However, most patients suffering from COPD are vitamin D deficient.
Investigators of the study hoped that high doses of vitamin D would reduce the number of exacerbations in these patients that often result in hospital stays. However, they found only a limited benefit from vitamin D supplements.
Researchers came to this conclusion after randomly administering 100,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D supplements to patients with moderate to very severe COPD every month for one year. Of the 182 patients enrolled in the study, a number of participants were also randomly selected to take a placebo pill. Over the course of the year, researchers studied the rate of flare-ups and hospitalizations as well as quality of life and deaths.
Despite blood levels of vitamin D rising significantly in those taking the supplement, researchers found no significant difference in the time before an exacerbation or the number of flare-ups between these patients and those receiving the placebo. There was also no significant difference between the groups in hospitalizations, quality of life and deaths.
However, researchers note that 30 patients with severe vitamin D deficiencies who were selected to take the supplement did have a significant reduction in exacerbations. While these results are promising, researchers note that these findings do not mean that all COPD patients should receive these high doses of vitamin D. This finding strengthens the idea that severe deficiency may result in enhanced inflammation in lungs affected by COPD.