A randomized controlled trial of vitamin D3 supplementation for the prevention of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections

Epidemiol Infect. 2009 Oct;137(10):1396-404. doi: 10.1017/S0950268809002404. Epub 2009 Mar 19.


Vitamin D has been shown to be an important immune system regulator. Vitamin D insufficiency during winter may cause increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections (URIs). To determine whether vitamin D supplementation during the winter season prevents or decreases URI symptoms, 162 adults were randomized to receive 50 microg vitamin D3 (2000 IU) daily or matching placebo for 12 weeks. A bi-weekly questionnaire was used to record the incidence and severity of URI symptoms. There was no difference in the incidence of URIs between the vitamin D and placebo groups (48 URIs vs. 50 URIs, respectively, P=0.57). There was no difference in the duration or severity of URI symptoms between the vitamin D and placebo groups [5.4+/-4.8 days vs. 5.3+/-3.1 days, respectively, P=0.86 (95% CI for the difference in duration -1.8 to 2.1)]. The mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D level at baseline was similar in both groups (64.3+/-25.4 nmol/l in the vitamin D group; 63.0+/-25.8 nmol/l in the placebo group; n.s.). After 12 weeks, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels increased significantly to 88.5+/-23.2 nmol/l in the vitamin D group, whereas there was no change in vitamin D levels in the placebo group. There was no benefit of vitamin D3 supplementation in decreasing the incidence or severity of symptomatic URIs during winter. Further studies are needed to determine the role of vitamin D in infection.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos / administration & dosage
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Placebos
  • Cholecalciferol