COPD's Exercising Shines with Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements plus exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often have difficulty exercising due to their diminished lung capacity.

Large doses of vitamin D supplements significantly help patients with COPD improve their ability to exercise, according to this Belgium study.

Belgian researchers gave doses almost twice as much as the daily recommended doses of vitamin D to patients with COPD and observed a marked increase in the patients' ability to exercise. These patients should be on a regular interval walking program and when sitting, use light hand weights.

"COPD patients exercise capacity and respiratory muscle strength improves with vitamin D."

Miek Hornikx, physiotherapist and doctoral student in the department of pneumology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven, Belgium explains that the study shows that vitamin D supplementation in almost twice the daily recommended amount plus a standard rehabilitation program, can improve exercise capacity and respiratory muscle strength.

COPD is a respiratory illness which commonly occurs along with osteoporosis and heart disease. To stave off the consequences of limited physical activity on these other conditions, physical activity is a must. Low levels of vitamin D is associated with muscle weakness.

The researchers wanted to see if mega-vitamin D supplementation helped these patients strides toward physical activity. 

The U.S. recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IUs daily for adults up to age 70 and 800 IUs daily for adults over age 70.

The Study

  • 50 COPD patients with a history of exacerbations who had been referred for rehabilitation put in two groups: One group received a monthly dose of 100,000 IUs of vitamin D, second group received a monthly dose of a placebo
  • Participants enrolled in extended education course about pulmonary rehabilitation for three months
  • Peripheral and respiratory muscle strength, exercise capacity and vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning and end of the program
  • Quality of life survey was filled out by participants before and after rehabilitation.
  • Vitamin D had a significant improvement in exercise capacity and respiratory function
  • Placebo group did not have significant improvement
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 13, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011