Vitamin D may help prevent ear infections

October 2, 2013

According to new research from Italy, an adequate vitamin D supply may reduce the risk of children developing uncomplicated acute otitis media.

In the randomized controlled trial, serum concentrations of vitamin D and the number of recurrent acute middle ear infections (AOM) were measured among 116 AOM-prone children who received either 1,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo every day for four months (1). The results showed that the children with an increased occurrence of AOM (at least three episodes in the preceding six months, or four in the preceding 12 months) had a high prevalence of insufficient serum 25(OH)D levels (below 30 ng/mL) at the beginning of the study. During the study, almost all participants who received vitamin D supplementation reached vitamin D levels higher than 30 ng/mL, while the placebo group showed no increased level. In addition, the number of chil-dren with at least one AOM episode during the study was significantly lower in the group of supplemented children when compared to the placebo group. Moreover, those who took vitamin D were less likely to have ear infection-associated complications.

The researchers commented that these findings support the suggested role of vitamin D in modulating the incidence and severity of bacterial and viral infections. More studies would be needed in order to clarify whether an adequate vitamin D supply not only reduces the risk of recurrences, but also decreases the risk of AOM generally in healthy children. In the first years of life, ear infections, known as acute otitis media infections (AOM), are common. They can develop from upper respiratory infections and when the middle ear gets infected with bacteria. In many children AOM tends to recur frequently. Methods currently used to prevent new episodes of AOM in otitis-prone children are often ineffective.


  1. Esposito S. et al. Vitamin D Supplementation Reduces the Risk of Acute Otitis Media in Otitis-prone Children. Data presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Denver, Colorado, USA, September 2013.