I am frequently extolling the health benefits of Vitamin D because almost weekly there is a new study that correlates high vitamin D levels with reducing some disease. The latest is from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and research shows that high doses of vitamin D supplementation improved respiratory muscle strength in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The patients that did not receive supplemental vitamin D had blood levels of 22.8 compared to 53.8 in the supplemented group. The patients who were supplemented had improved respiratory function, strength and less shortness of breath. It certainly didn’t cure or reverse COPD but the improvement was an encouraging trend in this terrible chronic disease.
In reading about this it got me thinking about COPD and the fact that it is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization and disability in the United States. It is a progressive disease that affects the alveoli (small air sacs that exchange oxygen) and small bronchioles of the lungs. These airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality and become thick and inflamed. Mucus forms and patients become progressively short of breath and eventually need supplemental oxygen just to breathe. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Did you know that most COPD is caused by smoking? It isn’t contagious. There is no cure and it ends in death. People always think of lung cancer and smoking but COPD is often even a worse outcome and it is preventable.
If you smoke and have a cough in the morning when you wake up- you are already exhibiting signs of chronic bronchitis or early COPD. I tell patients it is like having an immune deficiency of the lungs. You get more colds and flu and pneumonia. Smoking is the culprit and even second hand smoke can be damaging to the lungs.
All the Vitamin D in the world will not reverse the effects of cigarettes.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*