Taking an oral vitamin D supplement with standard asthma medication can decrease severe asthma attacks, according to evidence from a recent Cochrane Review.
“We found that taking a vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma treatment significantly reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks, without causing side effects,” Adrian Martineau, PhD, professor from the asthma UK centre for applied research at Queen Mary University of London, said in the press release.
Using vitamin D as a tool for asthma management may reduce upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold, that can lead to increased severity of asthma. In children and adults with asthma, research shows association between low blood levels of vitamin D and increased risk of asthma attacks.
Cochrane researchers reviewed seven trails involving 435 children and two studies involving 658 adults. The studies lasted between 6 and 12 months. Most participants had mild to moderate asthma while a minority had severe asthma, and mainly all continued their regular asthma medication regimen.
Based largely on trails in adults, the investigators discovered that giving an oral vitamin D supplement decreased the risk of severe asthma attacks from 6% to roughly 3%, and reduced the rate of attacks needing treatment with steroid tablets. However, they found vitamin D supplementation did not improve lung function or day-to-day asthma symptoms.
Martineau cautions that further investigation is needed to better understand the outcomes of vitamin D supplements and their relationship with asthma.
“The findings relating to severe asthma attacks come from just three trails: most of the patients enrolled in these studies were adults with mild or moderate asthma… further vitamin D trials in children and in adults with severe asthma are needed to find out whether these patient groups will also benefit,” Martineau added in the release. “It is not yet clear whether vitamin D supplements can reduce risk of severe asthma attacks in all patients, or whether this effect is just seen in those who have low vitamin D levels to start with.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.