Vitamin D supplements don’t help patients control flare-ups related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a small new study by Belgian investigators.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved 182 patients with moderate to very severe COPD. Patients were given to 100,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D supplements or placebos every four weeks for a full year and monitored for flare-ups and hospitalizations as well as deaths.
Although vitamin D levels increased in the blood of the patients, there was no significant difference in the rate of COPD flare-ups, hospitalizations, quality of life and deaths between the two groups of patients, researchers at the University Hospitals Leuven found.
“High-dose vitamin D supplementation in a sample of patients with COPD did not reduce the incidence of [flare-ups],” they concluded.
The research was funded by the Applied Biomedical Research Program, Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology.
People with COPD typically have emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis, making it hard for them to breathe. Because many COPD sufferers are vitamin D deficient and vitamin D can reduce inflammation, researchers had hoped high doses of the vitamin might help.
An accompanying journal editorial noted "COPD ranks in the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States," but COPD therapies other than stopping smoking have limited impacts.