Asthma patients who take vitamin D in addition to their standard medications experience fewer allergic asthma attacks requiring hospital admission. This was the finding of a review study from the renowned Cochrane network1. Researchers are now working on a new project to find out who benefits the most from taking the vitamin: patients with naturally low vitamin D levels or all asthma patients across the board.
For the study2, researchers analysed the data from 955 participants from seven studies. They were then able to confirm a finding from previous studies: While taking vitamin D, patients had fewer severe asthma attacks requiring treatment with cortisone. Out of 286 patients who took vitamin D, 85 had severe attacks versus 121 (out of 284 patients) in the placebo group.
However, they were unable to draw any clear conclusions from the analysis of the individual blood tests. In particular, asthma patients with low vitamin D levels (less than 25 nmol/L or 10 ng/ml) benefited from vitamin D supplementation. But the researchers were unable to prove whether a positive effect is generally linked to baseline vitamin D status.
The authors conclude that vitamin D supplementation is an inexpensive therapy with few side effects that can help reduce the frequency of severe asthma attacks and the number of deaths from the disease.
If you are interested in vitamin D supplementation in addition to your asthma treatment, you should discuss it in detail with a medical specialist.
- Vitamin D is formed in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Depending on the season and the time of day, five to 25 minutes of sun exposure to the face, hands and forearms are sufficient for the body to generate enough vitamin D.
- Only a small part of the daily requirement can be obtained through food. Fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), egg yolks and mushrooms (porcini, chanterelles) are particularly good sources of vitamin D.
- According to Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (German Nutrition Society – DGE), 20 micrograms of vitamin D per day (800 IE) are enough to provide an adult with sufficient vitamin D. This estimate applies to people who do not form enough vitamin D on their own.
1 Vitamin D for the management of asthma. Martineau AR et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD011511. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD011511.pub2/full
2 Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. Jolliffe, David A et al. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine , Volume 5 , Issue 11 , 881 – 890 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(17)30306-5