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Lung Function and Vitamin D link identified in New Zealand Study

December 14th 2005

Lung Function and Vitamin D link identified in New Zealand Study


There may be a link between vitamin D and lung health according to a new study out of New Zealand. Researchers led by Peter Black at the University of Auckland looked at 14,091 persons over the age of 20 from the U.S. Third national health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) carried out between 1988 and 1994. The participants had spirometry performed and had serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D measured.

The participants were divided into five groups based on vitamin D levels.  Typically the higher the vitamin D levels the better the subjects performed on two lung function tests.

The first test was the FEV1 (forced expiratory volume).  This measured the total amount of air blown out in the first second of maximum exhalation.  The second test was the FVC (forced vital capacity) test.  This test measured the amount of air blown out during a maximum exhalation. 


For those over the age of 60 the association between vitamin D and FEV1 was more profound.  The link was also greatest for current and former smokers.  The tissues of the lungs undergo a process of “renewal and remodeling” throughout life.  It is possible that vitamin D may influence this.

According to the myDNA website the researchers made adjustments for physical activity, intake of vitamin D supplements and milk and antioxidant levels.  “In addition, an association between vitamin D and FEV1 was seen in non-Hispanic whites and blacks and was greater for those over 60 and current or former smokers. who were interviewed at mobile examination centers.”

Forbes reports that Black said "As far as we are aware, this is the first time that anyone has identified this association between lung function and vitamin D."

There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D.   Most healthy adults under the age of 50 should take at least 200 IUs (International Units).  For those between the ages of 51 and 70 the dosage is 400 IU and for adults over the age of 70 the dosage is 600 IU. 

The body can manufacture vitamin D with exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV). The sun can provide this.  Some foods have vitamin D.  Milk is fortified with vitamin D.  Salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines also have vitamin D.   

There has already been a link between vitamin D and osteoporosis.  Other studies suggest a link between low vitamin D levels and diabetes and coronary heart disease.  The most common reason for low vitamin D levels is lack of exposure to the sun.  The sun can damage the skin.

The study appears in the December issue of Chest.  Chest is a peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).  To learn more about vitamin D, see U.S. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:40 PM