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Vitamin D deficiency may hamper lung function

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Vitamin D deficiency may affect human’s lung structure and function, according to a new study conducted on mice by scientists from Australia.

Vitamin D has already been found associated with severity of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Australian researchers compared two groups of two-week-old mice, one with vitamin D deficiency and the other without, for the lung volume and lung function.

The study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed the mice with Vitamin D deficiency had reduced the lung function and volume, compared with the control mice.

"The results of this study clearly demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency alters lung growth, resulting in lower lung volume and decrements in lung function," said Graeme Zosky, lead author of the study.

"This is the first direct mechanistic evidence showing that vitamin D deficiency alters lung development, which may explain the association between obstructive lung disease and levels of vitamin D."

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher risk of rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and autism among other things.

In 2010, The Food and Nutrition Board slightly increased its Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin D for people at various ages.  The recommendations have drawn criticism from many vitamin D experts who say the new guidelines are not enough to prevent diseases.

Exposure of the bare bands and the face to the sun at the hottest time in the summer is believed to help make more than 10,000 IUs of vitamin D.  Healthy adults can tolerate intake of up to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D per day while the Institute of Medicine suggests that the up tolerable limit is 4000 IUs for adults.

Only a few foods contain vitamin D, but at low levels which are not enough for most people to use to maintain a healthy serum level. They include salmon, sardines, mackerel, fortified cow's milk, soy milk, fortified orange juice, fortified cereal, egg yolk and mushroom.

Vitamin D expert Dr. John Cannell, director of Vitamin D Council suggests that adults should use about 4000 to 5000 IUs daily to prevent diseases.

For more information on vitamin D, read here.

Stephen Lau and editing by Denise Reynolds and Aimee Keenan-Greene

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