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Vitamin D may help reduce asthma attacks

September 13, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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For people with asthma, vitamin D may be key to preventing severe asthma attacks.

Low blood levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk of asthma attacks in children and adults with asthma. People with mild to moderate asthma who were given vitamin D supplements experienced fewer asthma exacerbations that required treatment with oral steroids and reduced the risk of at least one exacerbation that required an emergency department visit, hospitalization or both, according to findings published in the Cochrane Library.

“Vitamin D is likely to offer protection against severe asthma attacks,” the authors write.

A meta-analysis found Vitamin D reduced the risk of going to the hospital with an acute asthma attack, defined as those requiring treatment with systemic corticosteroids, from 6 per 100 to around 3 per 100. The average number of attacks per person per year went down from 0.44 to 0.28 with vitamin D. There were no increased risk of serious adverse side effects at the doses given.

Researchers studied the rate of severe asthma attacks in one trial of 22 children and two trials of 658 adults. Study duration ranged from four to 12 months but all compared vitamin D with a placebo.

It is as not known whether the benefits apply to people with higher baseline vitamin D status or whether vitamin D can improve the asthma for people with frequent severe asthma attacks. 

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