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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Poorer Lung Function in Asthmatic Children

Posted Aug 05 2012 10:42am

Since asthma is a chronic condition, finding ways to minimize attacks is key in improving quality of life in people who suffer from this condition. Research suggests that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute to the development and poor control of asthma.

Vitamin D and Asthma Study

A recent study by Boston researchers, published this month in the online version of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, studied the data of over 1,000 children with mild to moderate persistent asthma that underwent treatment with inhaled corticosteroids for a period of 12 months. Vitamin D levels and other markers were also tracked during this time.

Vitamin D and Asthma picture

In reviewing the data, the researchers found that children with insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D had poorer respiratory function compared to children with sufficient levels of the vitamin.

While this research certainly suggests vitamin D may play a strong role in managing asthma, the sample was relatively small, with only 101 of the children in the study having low vitamin D levels.

Research on Vitamin D and Asthma

This study is not the only one to suggest a link between healthy vitamin D levels and healthier lung function. WebMD reports a meta-analysis of research compiled over the last 60 years looking at the link between this important vitamin and lung function suggests this nutrient plays an important role in lung health and managing this condition.

The findings, published in the September 2010 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, indicated low vitamin D levels were linked with greater airway reactivity, poorer control of asthma symptoms and reduced lung function.

How Does Vitamin D Help the Lungs?

While the exact mode of action is unclear, vitamin D appears to contribute to lung health in numerous ways. When used in conjunction with corticosteroids, it may enhance their anti-inflammatory actions.

It may offer other anti-inflammatory benefits in the form of blocking proteins that cause inflammation from entering the lungs and aiding in the production of substances that reduce inflammation.

Who is Likely to Be Deficient In Vitamin D

It is possible for anyone to be deficient in any type of nutrient, but certain risk factors make certain deficiencies more likely. You are most likely to be deficient in vitamin D if you are African-American, overweight, elderly or live in an area with insufficient sun exposure.

However, another recent study showed that over 70% of school-age children are deficient in Vitamin D and many health experts believe the vast majority of Americans are deficient.

The presence of any conditions that affect absorption of nutrients, such as inflammatory bowel disorders, may also put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

If you suffer from asthma, it seems like it is probably important to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Aim for 15 minutes of sun a day sans sun block—though this strategy may be insufficient if you live in certain areas.

Although many health experts will tell you that food sources for Vitamin D include fortified milk, eggs and oily fish, you won’t be able to get nearly enough Vitamin D from food alone. New research suggests we should be supplementing with 4,000 to 6,000 IU a day of Vitamin D .

If you have trouble meeting your needs through sun exposure and/or foods, then you should probably be using a high quality Vitamin D supplement – in either gel capsule or liquid dropper. Your body will produce up to 50,000 IU of Vitamin D in one hour in the sun so it’s certainly safe to supplement with 4,000 to 6,000 IU a day.

If you suspect vitamin D deficiency, it is best to get your levels checked and receive guidance from your health care provider regarding supplementation. Your Vitamin D levels should be ideally between 60 to 80 ng/mL. We’ve seen patients with levels lower than 10 – which is very, very deficient and can lead to horrible chronic diseases down the road.

Closing Thoughts

Asthma may seem like one of those conditions that you can do little to control outside of medications and avoiding triggers, but this research suggests that this condition may result from problems resulting at a deeper level that may be alleviated by getting sufficient nutrients linked to lung health. With any chronic condition, eating a healthy diet and supplementing when necessary is always a good idea.

About The Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness content. She has a passion for helping others live their healthiest and best life. If you have asthma, you might be interested in learning more about air purifiers at

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