Clinical nutrition

Decreased lung function is associated with vitamin D deficiency in apparently health, middle aged Koreans: the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study



There has been inconsistent relationships between serum vitamin D levels and lung function in previous studies. However, previous studies included patients with medical diseases, affecting both vitamin D levels and lung function. Considering this view of potential confounders, we investigated if vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is linked to lung function in health screening examinee without overt medical conditions.


We conducted a cohort study on 68,457 healthy Koreans (36,759 males, mean age: 37.7 years) with a health examination in 2015. Measured forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were categorized in quartiles. To examine the relationships between VDD and lung function, adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for VDD were estimated by logistic regression.


Median vitamin D level was 14.9 ng/mL. The prevalence of VDD (defined as <20 ng/ml) was 74.5%. Compared with the highest quartile (Q4, reference), the aORs for VDD across decreasing quartiles (from Q3 to Q1) were 1.05, 1.06, 1.10 for FVC, and 1.07, 1.10, 1.10 for FEV1 (P for trend < 0.01 for both), in all subjects. Similarly, the aOR of having VDD for men also increased with decreasing quartiles of FVC and FEV1 in a dose-response manner (p for trend < 0.01 for both). However, neither FVC nor FEV1 was associated with VDD in women.


VDD was associated with decreased lung function in middle aged Korean men without overt medical conditions. VDD could be a modifiable risk factor for impaired lung function, in men but not in women.

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Fig. 1: Flow chart of study participants.
Fig. 2: Multivariable-adjusted odds ratio for having vitamin D deficiency according to quartile of lung function.


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This work was supported by a research grant from Jeju National University Hospital development fund in 2019.

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Conception and design: J-U.S Data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript writing: J-US; JL; HKP. Revision of the manuscript and contribution of intellectual content: J-US; JL; HKP; M-JK; S-YH and SYL.

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Correspondence to Jae-Uk Song.

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Lee, J., Park, H.K., Kwon, MJ. et al. Decreased lung function is associated with vitamin D deficiency in apparently health, middle aged Koreans: the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study. Eur J Clin Nutr (2020).

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