- It is believed the nutrient works by reinforcing the first line of defence
- Experts say the findings show ‘a potentially life-saving discovery’
- Acute respiratory illnesses are much more deadly among older people
Vitamin D could soon be used to treat deadly respiratory viruses, new research suggests.
Elderly patients who had high doses of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ were 40 per cent less likely to develop lung infections.
Pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza are known to have higher death rates among older people because of their weakened immune system.
But because they are viruses, antibiotics are often not prescribed due to them being ineffective.
However, experts believe vitamin D helps to reinforce the first line of defence as people age to prevent acute respiratory infections.
Scientists have hailed the findings and said they could help to slash cases of such illnesses – which are particularly deadly in care-home based adults.
Older people who take high doses of vitamin D are at lower risk of respiratory illness, new research suggests
Lead researcher Adit Ginde, from the University of Colorado, said: ‘This is a potentially life-saving discovery.’
He added that there is very little in a doctor’s arsenal to battle the infections as antibiotics often don’t work against viruses as they have different growth mechanisms to bacterial infections.
It is believed prescribing antibiotics to treat viral infections could contribute to the growing antibiotic resistance.
It is estimated that the rise of superbugs – resistant to drugs – will cause up to ten million deaths a year by 2050.
‘But vitamin D seems able to potentially prevent these infections,’ he added.
Researchers examined the nutrient’s impact on respiratory infections in 107 nursing home residents with an average age of 84.
Of those, 55 received high doses of vitamin D while the others were given much lower doses. Both were followed over a period of 12 months.
Scientists found the group receiving higher doses had a 40 per cent reduction in cases of acute respiratory infections.
Experts say the findings could help to slash acute respiratory infections – one of the leading killers of care-home based adults
They believe their findings could help to prevent infections and complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Mr Ginde said: ‘After studying these patients for a year, we found a 40 percent reduction in acute respiratory illness among those who took higher doses of vitamin D.
‘Vitamin D can improve the immune system’s ability to fight infections because it bolsters the first line of defense of the immune system.’
However, he says further research is needed to confirm the link between vitamin D and a reduced chance of developing a respiratory illness.
This comes after a study last week found women who had high levels of vitamin D were more likely to live after having breast cancer.
US scientists found those who had increased amounts of the sunshine vitamin were almost a third more likely to survive their diagnosis.
The new study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Link original: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3941568/High-doses-vitamin-D-reduces-risk-respiatory-illness-older-patients-nearly-half.html?ITO=applenews