- Supplementation of vitamin D in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients reduces the risk of acute and serious aggravations of their lung condition, triggered by viral infections such as the common cold
- Many COPD patients also have associated vitamin D deficiency; this subset of COPD patients is at higher risk of acute flare-ups and benefit from vitamin D supplementation
- COPD is a chronic lung disease marked by breathing difficulties and affects over 170 million people worldwide, with an estimated 3.2 million deaths in 2015
Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of lung attacks in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. However, supplementing vitamin D can significantly reduce the risk of acute aggravations of their lung condition, according to a recent study conducted at the Queen Mary University of London.
The findings add to the growing list of benefits of vitamin D traditionally known to improve bone health. The study results appear in the journal Thorax.
Vitamin D Deficiency in COPD Patients
The study team estimated that nearly 1.2 million COPD patients are in the UK, with about 30,000 deaths per year and places a huge burden on the healthcare system. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of COPD patients (240,000) have low vitamin D levels.
- Supplementation of vitamin D in this subgroup of COPD patients at risk of flare-ups of lung attacks is a simple and inexpensive way to protect them as well as reduce healthcare costs in an already overburdened system.
Professor Adrian Martineau from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Vitamin
‘Supplementation of vitamin D in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who are deficient reduces risk of potentially life-threatening aggravations of their lung disease.’
D supplementation is safe, and it costs just a few pence to supplement a person for a year – so this is a potentially highly cost-effective treatment that could be targeted at those who have low vitamin D levels following routine testing.“
Role of Vitamin D in reducing Lung Attacks in COPD Patients
Until now, studies investigating the role of vitamin D supplementation on COPD patients have turned up conflicting results. By putting together all the individual patient data from the various clinical trials, the study team sought to determine whether vitamin D might confer a beneficial effect on a specific subgroup of COPD patients.
- The study obtained data of 469 patients from three clinical trials in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium
- Analysis of data revealed that vitamin D supplements orally, reduced the risk of moderate/severe COPD flare-ups in patients (by 45%) with low levels of vitamin D (less than 25 nmol/l or 10 ng/ml)
- The dose of vitamin D varied from 30 micrograms daily to 2500 micrograms monthly. Amount of supplementation did not affect or cause any undue side effects in the patients suggesting that it was safe
- Giving vitamin D supplementation to patients who did not have such low vitamin D levels did not show a reduced risk of flare-ups
The findings of the study suggest that the vitamin D supplementation needs to be a targeted therapy and doctors must first perform blood levels of vitamin D in COPD patients to determine those who are deficient and would thus benefit the most from vitamin D supplementation
The findings of the current study echo earlier studies by this team which found that vitamin D supplementation had the most beneficial effect in protecting against attacks of asthma, cold and flu in patients who were initially vitamin D deficient, to begin with.
Supplementation of vitamin D in COPD patients who are vitamin D deficient reduces their risk of acute lung attacks by nearly 45 percent. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D by the Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is 10 micrograms.
- Vitamin D to prevent exacerbations of COPD: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data from randomised controlled trials – (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-212092)