Studies Show Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Asthma Attacks
You take a breath and don’t think much of it, that is until you start coughing. The coughing persists despite any efforts to control it. Your chest starts to tighten as if a huge boulder is almost crushing your chest. You try to take a breath but the wheezing makes breathing difficult as the rattle in your chest makes this awkward sound. Your heart rate speed up with anxiety sneaking up on you as you fumble for your inhaler, in hopes to make this nightmare come to an end. You take the prescribed puffs and try to stay calm as the mist works to reduce the swelling your airways again – seconds feel like minutes, minutes feel like hours.
Unfortunately, even fast-acting inhalers and other asthma treatments don’t always work as fast as they need to. Out of the 300 million people who suffer from chronic asthma, 250,000 people die annually from asthma and asthma-related conditions. However, researchers at Cochrane have been conducting more studies and trials when it comes to the benefits of Vitamin D on reducing the severity of asthma attacks as well as the possibly reducing the frequency.
The study was conducted in seven clinical trials involving over 1,000 patients, both children and adults, of diverse backgrounds, including age, race, culture, and geographical region. Each study lasted between four months to one year. In this study, they discovered that over half of the participants who suffered from a mild or moderate asthma attack significantly lessened the severity and trips to the hospital in comparison to being given a placebo. Hosptial visits due to asthma attacks with from 6% to only 3%. Professor Adrian Martineau from the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, Queen Mary University of London, stated, “...taking a vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma treatment significantly reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks, without causing side effects.” It was also noted in the study that the participants already showed signs of Vitamin D deficiency of varying levels.
Professor Martineau is excited about the finding, however, not getting ahead of himself, either. These studies were conducted on those with mild to moderated asthma who also have a Vitamin D deficiency. There are three more trials with regards to whether or not Vitamin D will also help severe asthma sufferers as well. He also warns that since these studies focused on Vitamin D deficiencies, it is unclear whether those without deficiencies could benefit from increasing their Vitamin D intake.
According to an article in the Canadian Respiratory Journal (Can Respir J) by doctors Christopher R Gilbert, DO, Seth M Arum, MD, and Cecilia M Smith, DO, many patients with chronic inflammatory lung diseases often suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. Because Vitamin D is also known for having anti-inflammatory properties, having a Vitamin D deficiency could worsen or complicate matters. Many people with asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive lung disease and interstitial pneumonia have this vitamin deficiency. Although taking Vitamin D supplements may lessen inflammation in the lungs, it is not expected nor implied to cure or eliminate asthma or other chronic lung disease.
More studies are currently underway to better understand the link between Vitamin D deficiencies and inflammatory lung disease such as asthma. Current studies make no definitive claim that Vitamin D will help every patient, with or without a deficiency. As always, it is best to consult with your primary care physician and pulmonologist for the best treatment options individualized for you and your health concerns.
© 2017 Linda Sarhan