Vitamin D May Improve Breathing for COPD Patients
Study Shows Improvement in Lung Function for COPD Patients Who Get Vitamin D Supplements
Testing Supplements in COPD
For the study, researchers enrolled 50 COPD patients whose symptoms, including shortness of breath and coughing and phlegm, had been getting worse.
All the patients participated in a three-month pulmonary rehabilitation program. Half were randomly selected to receive once-monthly, high-dose vitamin D supplements; the other half were given a placebo pill.
At the beginning of the study, and again at the end, researchers tested muscle strength in the lungs and the legs, vitamin D levels, and exercise capacity, which is a measure of how long and how intensely a person can exercise. Researchers also asked about improvements in quality of life before and after the study.
By the end of the study, study participants taking vitamin D had significantly greater improvements in exercise capacity and respiratory muscle strength than those taking the placebo.
Despite the fact that they could move and breathe better, however, study participants taking vitamin D didn’t report any improvements in quality of life. Researchers think that may be because the study was relatively short.
Will Doctors Put COPD Patients on Vitamin D?
While it is still early, Brown says that based on the evidence he’s seen, he’s tempted to start testing his patients for vitamin D.
“I’m not fully convinced of this issue yet,” he tells WebMD. “But I think the totality of this information is really pushing us toward testing many patients, and if found to be deficient, trying to think about ways to replace them.”
Whether a person needs extra vitamin D will probably depend on the climate they live in, how much they’re outdoors, and how much of the vitamin they get from their diet.
The U.S. recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU daily for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU daily for adults over 70.