We’ve discussed the importance of Vitamin D in terms of LED lights and lessening the chances of developing MS, but now Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is showing its potential for asthma sufferers. Vitamin D keeps our bones and teeth healthy, in addition to regulating and absorbing calcium in our bodies (ndtv). Generally, people with a deficiency take supplements, which Makers Nutrition manufactures, or seek more sun exposure. However, those with asthma, regardless of their vitamin levels, may have a new reason to turn to Vitamin D for help.
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, a new study has shown a promising addition to asthma medication that could cut the risk of asthma attacks in half.
How serious is asthma?
Sparked by respiratory infections (eg: flu, common cold), asthma, a chronic and sometimes long-term disease that narrows and inflames the lung airways, is incurable but manageable (asthma.com). While asthma attacks/exacerbations can usually be relieved with inhalants, the condition should not be underestimated. Approximately 25 million people in the United States alone have asthma—and the rate keeps increasing. Globally, the condition affects more than 300 million people and causes nearly 400,000 deaths per year. On average, 3 people in the United Kingdom die due to asthma attacks every day, while 10 people in the United States die every day. Clearly, asthma is not messing around (eurekalert and medicalnewstoday).
How does Vitamin D play into all of this?
Many believe Vitamin D protects against asthma attacks by boosting immune responses to respiratory viruses and dampening down harmful airway inflammation (eurekalert). Interestingly, asthma medication is not always effective—which is why there are about 1.8 million emergency room annually in America. All the more reason to get into just how Vitamin D can help people who endure asthma.
Now the Study
The use of Vitamin D supplements was put to the test among 955 participants in seven randomized trials. The findings: “taking oral Vitamin D supplements accounted for a 30% reduction in the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroids, from 0.43 events per person per year to 0.30. Additionally, the risk of experiencing at least 1 asthma attack requiring emergency department attendance and/or hospitalization was reduced by 50%” (pharmacytimes). Participants with low levels of Vitamin D before the study experienced a 55% reduction in rate of asthma attacks requiring steroid treatment. Overall, head of the study Professor Martineau and colleagues believe that Vitamin D supplementation may be a very realistic and effective way to reduce the severity of asthma cases.
As many studies go, limitations of this one make clear that its findings are not applicable to all people with asthma. David Jolliffe, MD, first author on the paper, said in a press release “Our results are largely based on data from adults with mild-to-moderate asthma: children and adults with severe asthma were relatively under-represented in the dataset, sour findings cannot necessarily be generalized to these patient groups at this stage” (pharmacytimes).
The research does not end here
Professor Martineau shares with Medical News Today a projection for future findings about Vitamin D’s capabilities: “Vitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive, so supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem.” Dr. Jolliffe adds to the report that “further clinical trials are ongoing internationally, and [they] hope to include data from them in a future analysis to determine whether the promise of today’s results is confirmed in an even larger and more diverse group of patients” (medicalnewstoday).
Professor Hywell Williams, director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Program stated “The results [of this study] bring together evidence from several other studies from over the world and is an important contribution to reducing uncertainties on whether Vitamin D is helpful for asthma—a common condition that impacts on many thousands of people worldwide” (eurekalert). Vitamin D has taken the stage and its spotlight is brighter than ever.
Whether or not you have an asthma problem, please seek a licensed physician’s help for guidance if you are looking to increase your Vitamin D intake.