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Low Vitamin D Levels Are Linked to Worse Symptoms of COPD

Adult male with an Oxygen hose to provide supplemental O2 due to a breathing disability such as emphysema or COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. There is no cure and treatment can be challenging. This condition is often associated with years or decades of cigarette smoking.

A new study suggests that low vitamin D levels are associated with worse symptoms of COPD. Of the nearly 500 participants in the study, 69% had insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D circulating in their bodies. This is defined as 30 ng/ml or less of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Those with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the worst emphysema symptoms.

As the scientists point out, this study established association, not causation. No one knows if vitamin D supplementation would alter the course of the disease.

[Respiratory Medicine, Oct. 2013]

If you are interested in sources of vitamin D and what constitutes a healthy blood level of this vitamin, you may wish to read our 8-page Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.


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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Vitamin D Deficiency

Learn about the symptoms of low Vitamin D and ways to overcome deficiency, for children and adults. Information on avoiding vitamin D overdose and which supplements are best.

Vitamin D Deficiency
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I have Emphysema. I was on oxygen when sleeping. I had laryngitis all the time. Finally I was put on oxygen 24/7. What a bother to carry that around all the time. Then I read an article in AARP magazine about vitamin D deficiency can cause breathing problems. I immediately went to the store and got some along with magnesium and the doctor had also put me on iron as I was about a 5 on a scale of 1-10 for iron. I also asked him for a Z-Pak for the larygitis. Well talk about difference of night and day. I no longer have larygitis. I can breathe, I can cut the lawn and do housework. I can work my 50 hours a week on my job and still come home and fix dinner or do laundry. What I am trying to say is yes I still have emphysema but it’s hard to tell. If I overdo I will find it hard to breathe but the supplements have literally changed my life. Maybe it can for you. Worth a try. I am 76 years old. D. Round, Riverton, WY

Taking Vitamin D-3 really helped my breathing problems that are caused by asthma and allergies. So it could be helpful for other breathing problems, I think. I had tests for my Vitamin D levels, and they were very low, before I started taking extra Vitamin D-3.

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