Research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that milk fortified with vitamin D decreased winter colds among vitamin D deficient children.
Dr Carlos A Camargo, MD of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues assigned Mongolian 4th and 5th graders to different treatment groups.
The researchers focused on a subgroup of 247 children assigned to daily ingestion of unfortified milk (n=104) or milk fortified with 300 IU of vitamin D3 (n=143).
Before intervention, the median vitamin D level was 7 ng/mL. After the trial, the median vitamin D level for the unfortified group was 7 ng/mL compared to 19 ng/mL in the fortified group.
The researchers found there was a significantly lower incidence of acute respiratory infections among the children who were drinking the vitamin D fortified milk (p=.047). After adjusting for age, gender, and history of wheezing, the children in the treatment group had 50% fewer colds.
Previous research suggests an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and acute respiratory infections. The author’s state:
“Thus, although the Mongolian 25-hydroxyvitamin D results may, at first glance, seem like a finding applicable to only a small segment of the U.S. population, the observed 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels actually are not uncommon in several segments of the U.S. population.”
Dr Camargo concludes that the present study provides evidence that the link between vitamin D levels and respiratory infections is causal and treating vitamin D deficiency is an inexpensive way to potentially prevent these infections.
Camargo CA, et al. Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation and Risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in Mongolia. Pediatrics. Aug 2012.