The Value of Vitamin D for COPD
Because my work was physically very demanding I had no choice but to retire at age 60 due to the severity of COPD. This gave me time to research to see what advances, if any, were being made as to the causes, and hopefully cure, of our condition.
Much lower than normal D levels
I soon read a little known research paper describing the benefits that may be available to those with COPD if a supplement of vitamin D were taken. It had been found that most with COPD had very much lower than normal D levels, sometimes so low as to cause other harmful health issues. The paper questioned if this was caused by having COPD – and if this could also a part of COPD itself. No conclusions were formed.
What soon became clear through this small experiment was that those that took a D supplement each day enjoyed better health, with less exacerbation, than those that took the placebo. The research paper ended that findings were not fully conclusive. And that more tests needed to be carried out.
I would be the subject
However, I was not ready to wait years for more research and decided I would be the subject. A supplement was inexpensive and after a lot of research into D I reasoned it was not likely to harm me. That at the least it will be a waste of time taking it but could offer positive benefits. I started to take a 5,000 iu capsule of vitamin D many years ago, and still do. I cannot say how many fewer exacerbations I have had since then. But since taking it have enjoyed positive health apart from two or three exacerbations a year and have only had one cold even though in some cases I have had my granddaughters with their colds around me.
Not enough sunshine
Vitamin D is considered to be more a hormone than a vitamin as it is produced by the skin in strong sunshine. Although production is less as we get older. Sadly many of us are not out in the sunshine enough during the year to produce the amount of D the body requires. Or in some cases, because of concerns for skin cancer, we have covered up with sunscreen, blocking out any benefit. Taking the capsule has not improved my breathing, at this present time there is no way we can get our lungs to heal. What we can do though is to try to halt the decline.
It is essential for health
Since the day I read that research paper much more has been found out about D. It is essential for health. And because of its important role in bone health. Most worrying is children suffering Rickets through not getting enough sunlight on their bodies. Maybe because our children do not go out to play as much as we did in our young years, preferring to stay indoors to play on their X-box or computer. Or maybe many are overprotected by sunscreen.
Because I have taken and am still taking steroids to keep inflammation down in my lungs, my specialist considered it prudent to send me for a bone scan to see how my bones had been effected. Osteoporosis, broken femurs, and fragile spines are well documented as in some cases being the result of steroid use. It was at this point I came clean with my doctor and told him I had taken a 5,000 iu capsule of D for many years, and hoped this had given some protection for my bones. His eyes lit up at the thought and said this just might be true, and would look at my results with interest.
After a two week wait for the results, I visited my doctor so we could look together at the results. They were stunning. My bones and spine were not only good, but in incredible shape. Coming in at the upper end of normal. This leads me to believe my bone health can only have been kept good by taking this small supplement each day. Even more stunning was the conclusion at the end of my test results. It recommended I continue to take 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D.
No longer feel sad
An added advantage is I used to suffer badly from the winter seasonal affective disorder, SAD. I would go into a moody sulk from November through till February as low light levels affected me. I had tried light therapy in trying to overcome SAD - to no avail. Amazingly since taking vitamin D, I have enjoyed winter as much as any other season and no longer feel sad.
For lots of amazing facts about vitamin D, I would recommend using your search engine. Type in "vitamin D and COPD" or maybe "vitamin D research".
You may wish to ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you have low levels of this essential hormone to help you to decide if, like me, you should take a supplement. You may be surprised to learn that in 2009 three-quarters of teens and adults were found to be low in Vitamin D in the USA which would have a massive impact on the health of the nation. Vitamin D3 can be obtained without a prescription.
I hope you have found this interesting. Till I next write don't forget that smile as when you smile, the world smiles with you. But most of all. Breathe Easy.
Do you have a COPD exacerbation tool kit?