A high intake of vitamin D may help to reduce inflammation in people with respiratory diseases.
Vitamin D has been shown to lower inflammation in the lungs associated with several respiratory diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to new research from the US, the vitamin can play a crucial role in the treatment of these conditions and their prevention in humans exposed to high levels of agricultural organic dust.
A team from the University of Nebraska's Medical Center in the US created a study using mice that showed diets rich in vitamin D lead to less inflammation in the lungs.
The results of the study were published in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology. Dr Jill Poole, associate professor of the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine and principal investigator of the study, explained that a number of mice were exposed to hog barn dust.
They were split into two groups – the first of which received a diet rich in vitamin D, while the second group received a low vitamin D diet.
"We found that the relatively high vitamin D treatment group had significantly decreased lung inflammation. The mice still got inflammation but didn't get it as bad," she wrote.
The research has big implications for humans, particularly those who are regularly exposed to agricultural organic dust. According to the researchers, vitamin D is able to change the way key molecules express themselves in response to dust, subsequently lessening inflammation brought on by the dust.
Agricultural workers are exposed to a variety of sources of this dust – including feed, bedding, livestock, mold, pollen, pesticides and chemicals. Long-term exposure can lead to COPD and other conditions such as organic dust toxic syndrome.
Dr Poole recommended people in these environments to consider taking vitamin D whether or not they have lung disease. Although vitamin D is primarily obtained from sunlight, those with deficiencies can easily top up the amount of the vitamin in their system with supplements.
The associate professor concluded: "Since vitamin D is inexpensive, readily available and safe, if you don't take more than 4,000 IUs daily, there's no downside. We're learning more and more about vitamin D and its benefits for a variety of health issues."
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