Summary: Taking oral vitamin D supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve the risk of asthma attacks requiring hospital attendance, according to new research.
David A Jolliffe, Lauren Greenberg, Richard Hooper, Christopher Griffiths, Carlos Camargo Jr, Conor Kerley, Megan Jensen, David Mauger, Iwona Stelmach, Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Adrian Martineau. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/S2213-2600(17)30346-6
Taking oral vitamin D supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve the risk asthma attacks requiring hospital attendance, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
With 300 million people suffering from asthma worldwide it is estimated to cause almost 400,000 deaths annually. Vitamin D is thought to boost the immune responses to respiratory viruses by dampening down harmful effects in the airways.
Vitamin D supplementation was found to be safe at the doses administered. Researchers found that vitamin D supplementation resulted in
- A 30% reduction in the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections – from 0.43 to 0.30 events per person per year.
- A 50% reduction in the risk of experiencing at least one asthma attack requiring Accident and Emergency attendance and/or hospitalisation – people experiencing such an event dropped from 6% to 3%.
Vitamin D supplementation was found to be safe at the doses administered. There were no instances of excessively high calcium levels or renal stones. Rates of serious adverse effects did not differ between those taking vitamin D and those on a placebo.
Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau said "On average 3 people in the UK die from asthma attacks every day, Vitamin D supplementation is relatively inexpensive and a potentially cost effective way to reduce this problem. These results add to evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health".
Vitamin D supplementation was found to have a strong and statistically-significant protective effect in participants who had low vitamin D levels to begin with. These participants saw a significant 55% reduction in the rate of asthma exacerbations requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections which resulted in 0.42 events per person per year to 0.19.
Professor Hywel Williams, Director of the NHIR Health Technology Assessment Programme. "The results of this study brings together evidence from several studies from all over the world and is an important contribution to reducing uncertainties on whether vitamin D is helpful for asthma".
Dr David A Jolliffe from QMU. As the first author on the paper he added "Our results are largely based on data from adults with mild to moderate asthma, children and adults with severe asthma were relatively under-represented in the dataset, so our findings cannot be generalised to these patient groups at this stage. Further clinical trials are on-going internationally and we hope to include data from these trials in future analysis to determine whether the promise of today's results is confirmed in an even larger and more diverse group of patients".
Suggested foods you can bulk up on to get your required dose of Vitamin D.
Mushrooms. Cheese. Fish. Eggs, and Soy Milk.
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