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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

New study says vitamin D fights respiratory infections, reduces need for antibiotics

As readers know the effectiveness of vitamin D in preventing and treating respiratory infections is close to my heart, almost as close as autism and vitamin D. Readers may also know of the epidemic of antibiotic resistance in the USA, and the growing realization that frequent antibiotic use is leading to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Krupa C. 26 organizations team up to fight antibiotic resistance. AMA News, Nov. 26, 2012

Recently, the only one year randomized controlled trial (RCT) of adequate daily dosing of vitamin D on the incidence of respiratory infections was published in the British Medical Journal.

Peter Bergman, Anna-Carin Norlin, Susanne Hansen, Rokeya Sultana Rekha, Birgitta Agerberth, Linda Björkhem-Bergman, Lena Ekström,6 Jonatan D Lindh, Jan Andersson. Vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with frequent respiratory tract infections: a randomised and double-blind intervention study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e001663

The authors, led by Dr Peter Bergman of the Karolinska Institute inSweden, conducted a RCT trial of the effects of 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 for one year in 140 patients with immune deficiency (60%) or a history of frequent infections (40%). They discovered the following:

  1. The vitamin D treatment group, which included patients with diagnosed immune deficiency (such as IgA, IgG and variable immune deficiency) had a significant reduced total infectious score, about a 25% reduction in self reported infections.
  2. That reduction steadily increased throughout the treatment period, indicating that even longer term supplementation will probably reduce infection even more.
  3. Antibiotic use was reduced by 64% in the treatment group!
  4. At the end of the treatment period, only normal flora existed in the nasal cultures of the treatment group, while the usual mix of normal and pathological flora existed in the placebo group.
  5. Surprisingly, there was a trend toward high adverse reactions in the placebo group. That is, those on sugar pills had more side effects!
  6. Significantly more cardiovascular events occurred in the placebo group.
  7.  There was a trend toward fewer non-respiratory infections in the treatment group.
  8. Infection with Candida was significantly less in the treatment group. This is the first time this has been discovered and supports higher vitamin D intake and higher 25(OH)D levels in the many people diagnosed  with Candida albicans overgrowth.

The authors concluded,

“The main conclusion from this long-term RCT is that vitamin D3 supplementation reduces the total burden of respiratory tract infections.”

They added,

“Our data indicate that vitamin D3 supplementation reduces the odds of taking antibiotics by approximately 60% in patients with frequent respiratory tract infections. Thus, supplementation with vitamin D3 could provide a novel strategy to reduce antibiotic use among high consumers and indirectly prevent the emerging epidemic of bacterial resistance.”

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.