Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Influenza and respiratory tract infections

A randomized controlled trial of vitamin D3 supplementation for the prevention of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections

M. LI-NGa1, J. F. ALOIAa1 c1, S. POLLACKa1, B. A. CUNHAa2, M. MIKHAILa1, J. YEHa1 and N. BERBARIa3

a1 Bone Mineral Research Center, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY, USA

a2 Department of Infectious Diseases, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY, USA

a3 Department of Internal Medicine, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY, USA

SUMMARY

Vitamin D has been shown to be an important immune system regulator. Vitamin D insufficiency during winter may cause increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections (URIs). To determine whether vitamin D supplementation during the winter season prevents or decreases URI symptoms, 162 adults were randomized to receive 50 μg vitamin D3 (2000 IU) daily or matching placebo for 12 weeks. A bi-weekly questionnaire was used to record the incidence and severity of URI symptoms. There was no difference in the incidence of URIs between the vitamin D and placebo groups (48 URIs vs. 50 URIs, respectively, P=0·57). There was no difference in the duration or severity of URI symptoms between the vitamin D and placebo groups [5·4±4·8 days vs. 5·3±3·1 days, respectively, P=0·86 (95% CI for the difference in duration −1·8 to 2·1)]. The mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D level at baseline was similar in both groups (64·3±25·4 nmol/l in the vitamin D group; 63·0±25·8 nmol/l in the placebo group; n.s.). After 12 weeks, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels increased significantly to 88·5±23·2 nmol/l in the vitamin D group, whereas there was no change in vitamin D levels in the placebo group. There was no benefit of vitamin D3 supplementation in decreasing the incidence or severity of symptomatic URIs during winter. Further studies are needed to determine the role of vitamin D in infection.

(Accepted February 11 2009)

(Online publication March 19 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: J. F. Aloia, M.D., Winthrop University Hospital, 222 Station Plaza North, Suite 510, Mineola, NY 11501, USA. (Email: jaloia@winthrop.org)

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