Vitamin D-3 Supplementation and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in a Randomized, Controlled Trial

Judy R. Rees*, Kristy Hendricks, Elizabeth L. Barry, Janet L. Peacock, Leila A. Mott, Robert S. Sandler, Robert S. Bresalier, Michael Goodman, Roberd M. Bostick, John A. Baron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Randomized controlled trials testing the association between vitamin D status and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) have given mixed results. During a multicenter, randomized controlled trial of colorectal adenoma chemoprevention, we tested whether 1000 IU/day vitamin D-3 supplementation reduced winter episodes and duration of URTI and its composite syndromes, influenza-like illness (ILI; fever and >= 2 of sore throat, cough, muscle ache, or headache) and colds (no fever, and >= 2 of runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat, cough, swollen or tender neck glands).

Methods. The 2259 trial participants were aged 45-75, in good health, had a history of colorectal adenoma, and had a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level >= 12 ng/mL. They were randomized to vitamin D-3 (1000 IU/day), calcium (1200 mg/day), both, or placebo. Of these, 759 participants completed daily symptom diaries. Secondary data included semiannual surveys of all participants.

Results. Among those who completed symptom diaries, supplementation did not significantly reduce winter episodes of URTI (rate ratio [RR], 0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], .79-1.09) including colds (RR, 0.93; 95% CI, .78-1.10) or ILI (RR, 0.95; 95% CI, .62-1.46), nor did it reduce winter days of illness (RR, 1.13; 95% CI, .90-1.43). There was no significant benefit according to adherence, influenza vaccination, body mass index, or baseline vitamin D status. Semiannual surveys of all participants (N = 2228) identified no benefit of supplementation on ILI (odds ratio [OR], 1.14; 95% CI, .84-1.54) or colds (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, .87-1.23).

Conclusions. Supplementation with 1000 IU/day vitamin D-3 did not significantly reduce the incidence or duration of URTI in adults with a baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level >= 12 ng/mL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1384-1392
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number10
Early online date6 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2013


  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • vitamin D
  • randomized controlled trial
  • RISK


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