Supplemental vitamin D and physical performance in COPD: A pilot randomized trial

Sonja M. Bjerk, Bradley D. Edgington, Thomas S. Rector, Ken M. Kunisaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels, commonly observed in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are associated with muscle weakness in elderly populations, and vitamin D supplementation appears to improve muscle strength and decrease falls in older individuals. We tested the effect of vitamin D supplementation on physical performance in patients with COPD. Methods: Patients were randomized to daily cholecalciferol (2000 IU) or placebo for 6 weeks. The primary outcome was the 6-week change in Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score. Secondary outcomes included changes in the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score, and serum 25(OH)D. Results: Thirty-six participants (mean age 68 years, all Caucasian males, mean forced expiratory volume in one second 33% of predicted) completed the study. Despite an increase in 25(OH)D levels in the intervention arm to a mean of 32.6 ng/mL (versus 22.1 ng/mL in the placebo arm), there was no difference in improvements in either SPPB scores (0.3 point difference; 95% confidence interval -0.8 to 1.5; P = 0.56) or SGRQ scores (2.3 point difference; 95% confidence interval -2.3 to 6.9; P = 0.32). Conclusion: Among patients with severe COPD, 2000 IU of daily vitamin D for 6 weeks increased 25(OH)D to a level widely considered as normal. However, compared with placebo, short-term vitamin D supplementation had no discernible effect on a simple measure of physical performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of COPD
StatePublished - Feb 14 2013


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Skeletal muscle strength
  • Vitamin D


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