Intake of Vitamins A, E and D Tied to Respiratory Health

By Anne Harding

November 04, 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Higher intakes of vitamin A, E and D are associated with better respiratory health, according to new findings.

Consuming more vitamin A and E in the diet and from supplements, and getting more vitamin D from supplements, was associated with a lower risk of self-reported respiratory health complaints, Dr. Suzana Almoosawi of Imperial College London and Dr. Luigi Palla of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine report in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

Dr. Almoosawi and Dr. Palla looked at intake of vitamins A, E, C and D, nutrients known to support immune-system function, in 6,115 adults who participated in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Rolling Programme for 2008-2016. Thirty-three reported respiratory complaints.

Intake of vitamin A, D and E through supplements was associated with a signifsicantly lower risk of respiratory complaints, which persisted after the authors adjusted for age, sex, BMI, household income and smoking status.

Dietary intake of A and E, but not D, was also inversely associated with respiratory problems. Vitamin C intake was not associated with respiratory illness.

The NDNS definition of respiratory complaints is broad, and includes infectious and non-infectious conditions, the authors note. "This implies that the generalisability of our study's findings is limited and no inferences should be made with regard to the current COVID-19 pandemic," they add. "Other limitations include the small number of cases and the inability to disentangle the direction of causality due to the cross-sectional nature of the NDNS study."

"We know that malnutrition predisposes people to infection," Dr. Almoosawi said in a phone interview with Reuters Health. Vitamin D deficiency is very common, she noted, and restrictions on outdoor activity due to the pandemic have likely made it even more prevalent. In fact, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) now recommends that everyone - not just at-risk individuals - take 10 ug of vitamin D daily from October to early March to counteract quarantine-driven deficiencies.

While some reports have suggested vitamin D could be protective against coronavirus, there is not enough evidence to support using vitamin D supplements for this purpose, according to the NHS.

"Now we are in the process of collecting and obtaining this data on nutritional status of people and the incidence of COVID," Dr. Almoosawi said. "We're hoping that by going back into the data set we will be able to see if indeed those people who did not take vitamin D were the ones who ended up developing COVID and more severe forms of COVID."

The study had no funding.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2TBBfwr BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health, online October 27, 2020.

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