New research recently published in the British Medical Journal states Vitamin D could play a vital role in staving off infections such as the colds and flu. The study provides the most robust evidence yet that vitamin D has benefits beyond bone and muscle health
Researchers analyzed data from 25 studies comprised of 11,321 participants in 14 countries who had at least one acute respiratory tract infection. In all the studies, participants were given oral doses of vitamin D3 or vitamin D2 against others who were given a placebo.
The study found of 10,933 participants, those who received daily or weekly vitamin D supplements “reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection.” The supplementation had greatest effect on those who were deficient in vitamin D, though all experienced positive effects. Some risks of acute respiratory tract infections were cut by up to 12 percent.
Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau from QMUL said: “This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections. Our analysis of pooled raw data from each of the 10,933 trial participants allowed us to address the thorny question of why vitamin D ‘worked’ in some trials, but not in others.
“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses.
“Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound vitamin D deficiency in several countries. By demonstrating this new benefit of vitamin D, our study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common.”
However, many physicians say most Americans get the recommended daily value of vitamin D (600 IUs) needed through their daily diets. Foods such as milk, orange juice, oily fish, and dairy products already contain vitamin D and exposure to sunlight also helps the body produce vitamin D. An editorial connected to the study publication says the effects are marginal and shouldn’t cause a change in clinical practices.