Insufficient vitamin D supply may increase risk of pneumonia

January 13, 2014

A new analysis of US intake survey data indicates that people with vitamin D deficiency may be more likely to have community-acquired pneumonia.

The study analyzed a potential link between blood vitamin D concentrations and cases of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) within one year in 16,975 adult participants of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1). The study results showed that – after adjusting based on demographic factors, clinical data, and season – vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL were associated with 56% higher odds of CAP, compared to levels higher 30 ng/mL.

According to the researchers, these findings indicate that a vitamin D supplementation among adults with low vitamin D status may positively affect the incidence and severity of CAP. This needs to be confirmed by longitudinal randomized controlled trials. Given its central role in immune regulation, and its known associa- tion with various respiratory ailments (e.g., asthma, COPD, tuberculosis), vitamin D status seems also to be associated with CAP in the general adult population (2).

CAP, an infection of the lung parenchyma that is not acquired in a healthcare setting, is a common and po- tentially serious illness, which is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. CAP is the leading in- fectious cause of death worldwide with roughly 50,000 adults dying from CAP each year in the United States (3). The annual direct and indirect cost associated with the care of patients with CAP exceeds $17 billion (4).


  1. Quraishi S. A. et al. Vitamin D Status and Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. PLoS One. 2013; 8(11):e81120.
  2. Hughes D. A. and Norton R. Review Vitamin D and respiratory health. Clin Exp Immunol. 2009; 158(1):20–25.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fast Stats. Deaths and mortality.
  4. Feikin D. R. et al. Mortality from invasive pneumococcal pneumonia in the era of antibiotic resistance, 1995–1997. Am J Public Health. 2000; 90:223–229.