What is Asthma?
In asthma, the smooth muscle walls that surround air passageways to the lungs swell, tighten, and inflame, restricting the flow of air. There are many things that can trigger an asthma attack, including pollen, pets, mold, respiratory infection, smoke, exercise, and inhaling cold air.
Two recent studies show that vitamin D can prevent or ameliorate asthma attacks.
Vitamin D Supplements Lead to Fewer Emergency Room Visits
Low levels of vitamin D may increase chances for asthma attacks, but this is the first review of results from placebo-controlled asthma studies using vitamin D supplements. Doctors analyzed findings from seven studies covering 435 children, and two studies covering 658 adults, most with mild or moderate asthma, and fewer with severe asthma. Participants were ethnically diverse, coming from North America, Europe, and Asia, and studies lasted anywhere from four to 12 months.
Overall compared to placebo, those taking vitamin D saw the rate of asthma flare-ups requiring corticosteroid treatments decrease by 37 percent. Chances of being hospitalized or requiring an emergency room visit for severe asthmatic episodes declined by 61 percent, with the number of hospitalizations declining from 6 per 100 participants to 3 per 100 participants.
Reference: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; 2016, Issue 9, Published Online
Fewer Asthma flare-ups in kids with the Common Cold
This was a study of vitamin D and acute respiratory infections--specifically, the common cold in children younger than 18.
Doctors reviewed seven controlled vitamin D supplement trials covering both healthy kids and those with recurring acute respiratory infections. While vitamin D did not reduce the chances of respiratory infection, kids with asthma and colds who took vitamin D saw 72 percent fewer asthma flare-ups during the cold compared to kids with asthma who did not take vitamin D.
Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; October, 2015, Vol. 114, No. 7, 1026-34
Additional Comments by Don Goldberg
In the first study, asthma flare-ups were reduced by 37%. In the second study, flare-ups were reduced by 72%. That's pretty impressive. And, equally impressive, this reduction is achieved merely by supplementing with a vitamin that is good for you in so many other ways as well. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.