The University of Auckland's researchers found that patients with higher concentrations of vitamin D had significantly better lung functions, compared to patients with lower concentrations.
"Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer," said Peter Black of the research group, who examined the relationship between vitamin D and lung functions through 14,091 people aged 20 years.
"The difference in lung function between the highest and lowest quintiles of vitamin D is substantial and greater than the difference between former and non-smokers," he added.
"Although there is a definite relationship between lung function and vitamin D, it is unclear if increases in vitamin D through supplements or dietary intake will actually improve lung function in patients with chronic respiratory diseases."
Overall, male gender, younger age, white ethnicity, non-smoking status, and regular, vigorous physical activity were associated with the highest lung function.
Vitamin D was higher in men than women, was inversely related to body mass index, and it declined with age. Vitamin D also was lower in non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican-Americans, compared with non-Hispanic whites, and it was lower in participants smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day compared with non-smokers.
"Chronic lung conditions compromise quality of life for millions of people in the United States and around the world," said W. Michael Alberts, President of the American College of Chest Physicians.
"By understanding the effect that vitamins have on lung functions, we may be able to identify new and more effective treatments for these debilitating diseases."IANS