Vitamin D supplements keep lung infections at bay

Daily vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as colds or flu among children in winters, a new research has found.

hidden August 21, 2012 14:41:00 IST
Vitamin D supplements keep lung infections at bay

Washington: Daily vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as colds or flu among children in winters, a new research has found.

The study, led by Harvard researchers, on Mongolian school children, found that daily intake of the vitamin decreased the risk of respiratory infections among children who had low blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the study.

"Our randomised controlled trial shows that vitamin D has important effects on infection risk," said Carlos Camargo, of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the study's corresponding author.

"In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection," Camargo stated.

Several recent investigations have suggested that vitamin D, best known for its role in the development and maintenance of strong bones, has additional important roles, including in immune function.

Since vitamin D is naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, maintaining adequate levels in winter is particularly challenging in areas such as the northern US and Canada that have significant seasonal variations in daily sunlight.

The current study analysed data from the Blue Sky Study, conducted in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by a team led by Harvard investigators in collaboration with local health researchers.

Vitamin D supplements keep lung infections at bayMongolians are known to be at high risk for vitamin D deficiency, especially during winter, and the Blue Sky Study followed schoolchildren, all of whom were found to have low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), which is considered the best measure of vitamin D status, at the study's outset.

Researchers compared the number of winter respiratory infections among a group of children who received daily doses of vitamin D added to locally produced milk with that of a control group receiving the same milk without added vitamin D.

Based on reports from their parents, the children receiving vitamin D had about half the incidence of respiratory infections that the control group had.

The findings will appear in the journal 'Pediatrics'.

PTI

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