Vitamin D can protect the lungs from harmful effects of smoking, according to an Eurekalert report. An international team of scientists has found that vitamin D deficiency could worsen lung functions over a period of time among smokers.
The discovery was made while studying the health conditions of more than 600 men in the UK between 1984 and 2003.
During the study, scientists checked vitamin D levels in the participants three times. They found that participants who had low vitamin D levels were having more lung function damage compared to participants who were not vitamin D deficient.
"We examined the relationship between vitamin D deficiency, smoking, lung function, and the rate of lung function decline over a 20-year period in a cohort of 626 adult white men from the Normative Aging Study," said Nancy E Lange, MD, researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in a statement. "We found that vitamin D sufficiency (defined as serum vitamin D levels of >20 ng/ml) had a protective effect on lung function and the rate of lung function decline in smokers."
However, scientists claim that no significant effect of vitamin D levels on lung function or lung function decline were observed in the overall study.
"Our results suggest that vitamin D might modify the damaging effects of smoking on lung function," said Dr Lange. "These effects might be due to vitamin D's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties."
Scientists are planning to conduct further studies to examine whether Vitamin D could protect the lungs from air pollution.
"Future research should also examine whether vitamin D protects against lung damage from other sources, such as air pollution," said Dr Lange.
"While these results are intriguing, the health hazards associated with smoking far outweigh any protective effect that vitamin D may have on lung function," said Alexander C. White MS, MD, chair of the American Thoracic Society's Tobacco Action Committee. "First and foremost, patients who smoke should be fully informed about the health consequences of smoking and in addition be given all possible assistance to help them quit smoking."