LMU 40 – Enhancing Asthma Management with Vitamin D: A Noteworthy Revelation
Source: European Respiratory Society International Congress, 2016
Lifestyle Medicine Update (February 2, 2017)
In this edition of the Lifestyle Medicine Update, we delve into a September 2016 review paper that has spotlighted a compelling aspect of asthma management. The study explored the potential benefits of supplementing standard asthma medication with vitamin D, revealing a promising avenue for reducing severe asthma attacks in patients with mild to moderate asthma.
Asthma and Vitamin D: A Review of the Research
The review paper scrutinized the synergy between vitamin D supplementation and conventional asthma treatment, particularly in curbing the severity and frequency of asthma exacerbations. A total of nine double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were scrutinized, encompassing 435 children and 658 adults predominantly dealing with mild to moderate asthma. The study yielded an intriguing finding: vitamin D supplementation demonstrated a substantial reduction in the rate of asthma exacerbations necessitating systemic steroid treatments.
A Clear Benefit: Reduction in Asthma Attacks
In the group supplemented with vitamin D, the annual average of asthma attacks plummeted from 0.44 to 0.22 per individual. This translated to a noteworthy 50% reduction in asthma attacks. Notably, vitamin D supplementation also exhibited a similar effect on the risk of severe asthma attacks leading to hospitalization or emergency department visits. The occurrence rate dropped from six to around three cases per 100 patients, once again marking a 50% reduction. However, it’s important to note that these findings were primarily observed in adults. The impact of vitamin D supplementation on children and pediatric asthma management remains a subject of ongoing exploration.
Personalized Approach: Vitamin D Assessment for Asthma Control
For adults grappling with asthma or those acquainted with someone who is, it’s recommended to consider a vitamin D assessment. Individuals with vitamin D blood levels below 75 nmol/L appear to be prime candidates for reaping the benefits of vitamin D supplementation in terms of asthma control. Remarkably, a considerable proportion of the population falls within this category. As a researcher pointed out, it’s reasonable for healthcare practitioners, including general practitioners, pediatricians, and pulmonologists overseeing asthma patients, to consider prescribing daily doses of 500 to 1000 IU of vitamin D. Moreover, for adults experiencing persistent exacerbations, measuring vitamin D levels could guide further intervention—increasing vitamin D intake when levels are low.
Unveiling the Mechanism: Vitamin D’s Role in Asthma Management
The mechanism behind vitamin D’s potential influence on asthma control is rooted in its anti-inflammatory properties targeting the lungs. Additionally, vitamin D triggers innate antimicrobial responses, impeding the proliferation of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms commonly present in the respiratory secretions of individuals with asthma.
A Widespread Concern: Asthma Prevalence
The significance of this study resonates when considering the escalating prevalence of asthma. Over the last two decades, Canada has witnessed a surge in asthma cases, with estimates suggesting that more than 3 million Canadians are afflicted. In the United States, the scale of the issue is even more pronounced, with approximately 25 million individuals, constituting 8% of the population, grappling with asthma.
Embracing New Possibilities: Implications for Asthma Management
Considering these findings, it’s prudent to explore the potential benefits of optimizing vitamin D levels in mitigating the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. This approach holds promise, offering an alternative dimension to asthma management that complements existing treatment strategies.
European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress, 2016: Abstract PA4112. Presented on September 6, 2016.
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.