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Vitamin D 'helps COPD patients'

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People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease might be helped more by schemes to rehabilitate their lungs if they were given extra vitamin D, research has found.

A Belgian study presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver, Colorado, US, found giving patients supplements improved their response to rehabilitation.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients often suffer a vitamin D deficiency - linked to diet and too little exposure to sunlight - as their breathing problems limit their mobility, which could mean less time is spent outside in the sun, physiotherapist and doctoral student Miek Hornikx said.

Ms Hornikx, of the department of pneumology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, explained: “Our study shows that high doses of vitamin D supplementation on top of a standard rehabilitation programme improve the outcome in terms of exercise capacity and respiratory muscle strength.”

The study saw 50 patients with COPD and a history of exacerbations given either a placebo or vitamin D every month on top of the rehabilitation they would have had anyway. The group given the vitamin saw notable improvements in the strength of their lung muscles and capacity for exercise compared with the others.

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