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Back to Vitamin D

Vitamin D and Immunologic Outcomes

The Evidence

In 2009, a major systematic review of the evidence concluded the following regarding vitamin D and immunologic outcomes:1

  • Two cohort studies, but no randomized controlled trials, evaluated immunologic outcomes;
  • NHANES III found no significant association between serum 25(OH)D concentrations and infectious disease mortality;
  • Another cohort study suggested a possible relationship between higher maternal 25(OH)D concentration (> 50 nmol/L) and increased risk of eczema in children, but the analysis did not control for important confounders and the 25(OH)D concentrations in the children were not measured.

Another systematic review of the evidence examined the burden of disease due to vitamin D deficiency in Canada and how this could change if the mean serum 25(OH)D concentration of Canadians were increased from 67 to 105 nmol/L, a value that would ensure that over half of the population has levels in the optimal range. This review found the following with respect to vitamin D and immunological outcomes:2

  • Vitamin D reduces the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and is likely beneficial in its treatment
  • Acute lower respiratory tract infections could be reduced by about 30% with higher vitamin D levels.

A prospective cohort study, conducted from September 20, 2009 to January 10, 2010, and published in 2010, assessed vitamin D status and incidence of acute viral infections in 198 healthy adult men and women (20 to 88 years) living and/or working in or near Greenwich, Connecticut, USA:3

  • Light skin, pigmentation, lean body mass, and supplementation with vitamin D were correlated with higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D;
  • Concentrations of 38 ng/mL or more were associated with a significant (p < 0.0001) two-fold reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections and with a marked reduction in the percentages of days ill;
  • The authors concluded that maintenance of 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentration of 38 ng/mL or higher should significantly reduce the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections and the associated burden of illness.

Learn more on the subject:


  1. Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center. Vitamin D and Calcium: A Systematic Review of Health Outcomes. Prepared for: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2009.
  2. Grant WB et al. An estimate of the economic burden and premature deaths due to vitamin D deficiency in Canada. Mo Nutr Food Res 2010;54(8):1172–81.
  3. Sabetta JR et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS ONE 2010;5(6):e11088.

Keywords: vitamin D

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