A new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is suggesting that Vitamin D could soon be used to treat deadly respiratory viruses. The research showed that elderly patients living in long term care facilities who had high doses of vitamin D were 40% less likely to develop lung infections.
Vitamin D is thought to help reinforce the first line of defence
Acute respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and influenza (flu) are known to have higher death rates among older people due to their weakened immune system. While not a treatment, vitamin D is thought to help reinforce the first line of defence as we age to prevent respiratory infections.
Scientists have said the findings could help to slash cases of respiratory illness among the elderly, particularly so among care-home based adults where the disease appears to be most deadly.
A potentially life-saving discovery
Lead researcher Adit Ginde, from the University of Colorado, said:
'This is a potentially life-saving discovery. There is very little in a doctor's arsenal to battle the infections as antibiotics often don't work against viruses as they have different growth mechanisms to bacterial infections. But vitamin D seems able to potentially prevent these infections'.
High doses of vitamin D shown to reduce likelihood of lung infections
Over the course of a year researchers looked at vitamin D's impact on respiratory infections in 107 nursing home residents with an average age of 84. Of those, 55 received high doses of vitamin D while the others were given much lower doses.
Scientists found the group receiving higher doses had a 40% reduction in cases of acute respiratory infections.
Mr Ginde said:
'After studying these patients for a year, we found a 40 percent reduction in acute respiratory illness among those who took higher doses of vitamin D. Vitamin D can improve the immune system's ability to fight infections because it bolsters the first line of defense of the immune system.'
Please note it’s not proven that taking vitamin D will help to prevent or treat respiratory infections. If you have a respiratory infection, you shouldn’t take vitamin D in place of any treatment medications. Talk to your doctor for more advice about taking supplements.