Vitamin D is most often associated with healthy bones and generally calcium and vitamin D supplements are recommended for any bone related problem. Sunshine is the most abundant and free source of this vitamin but despite this its deficiency is very common. Vitamin D is also found in foods like fish, liver, mushrooms and eggs. Dairy products, juices, cereals and most of the processed foods are fortified with the vitamin. Vitamin D3, or calcitriol, is the biologically active form of vitamin D. It pays a critical role in bone health.
Latest researches indicate the association of low levels of serum vitamin D with impaired pulmonary function and increased incidence of inflammatory, infectious or neoplastic diseases.
AdvertisementChristian Herr and colleagues reviewed the knowledge on the classical and newly discovered functions of Vitamin D and published the report titled 'The Role of Vitamin D in Pulmonary Disease' in the journal Respiratory Research. They found that:
• Patients with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive lung disease and interstitial pneumonia are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. However, the exact mechanisms underlying the data are unknown. Vitamin D appears to impact the function of inflammatory and structural cells. Several studies indicate that vitamin D possesses a range of anti-inflammatory properties.
• Researches also state that various cytokines, cellular elements, oxidative stress and protease/antiprotease levels appear to affect lung fibroproliferation, remodelling and function. This may be influenced by vitamin D levels.
Low bone density in the thoracic skeleton affects respiratory muscle movements in breathing. Thus, the skeleton providing a weak support to the respiratory muscles could affect lung function. Another condition called Kyphosis (curvature of the upper back), caused by osteoporosis has been shown to reduce rib cage mobility and inspiratory muscle function.
The above findings suggest that respiratory therapists should test any patient with impaired lung function for circulating levels of calcidiol which is further converted to calcitriol. Various other clinical trials are also in process to test the potential of VitD3 correction therapies for asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis.
The reviewers concluded 'Vitamin D has a number of activities in addition to its effect on calcium and bone homeostasis and influences process such as immune regulation, host defense, inflammation, or cell proliferation. Vitamin D deficiency is potentially involved in a number of lung disease. Several hurdles must be overcome to validate the benefit of VitaminD-based therapies:
1) Basic mechanisms are not clear and the involved molecular pathways are likely difficult to identify because VitD impacts on a variety of biological processes in parallel.
2) Conclusive data from interventional studies are missing for many disease entities.
3) Since VitD has been used for many years, the pharmaceutical industry might hesitate in starting a development program. Nevertheless, the data available indicate that VitD could be beneficial for the prevention or therapy of important lung diseases'.
1, Gilbert CR, Arum SM & Smith CM. "Vitamin D deficiency and chronic lung disease"Can Respir J. 2009 May-Jun;16(3):75 -80.
2, Herr C et al. "The Role of Vitamin D in Pulmonary Disease" Respiratory Research. 2011;12. 2011 BioMed Central, Ltd
3, Picher M. Ph.D "How Does Vitamin D Help You Breathe Better", 2011.