Vitamin D3 has been touted to help with about every ailment from depression to cancer. But now research is catching up to what we already know.
Adding vitamin D supplements with standard asthma medication may lead to fewer asthma attacks for people with mild to moderate asthma, stated the new Cochrane review.
Researchers do caution that “relatively few trials, none of which has individually reported a statistically significant effect of vitamin D on risk of exacerbation requiring treatment with systemic corticosteroids as a prespecified outcome.” The review looked at 9 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with 435 children and 658 adults with mild to moderate asthma.
Oral Vitamin D₃ Supplements and Asthma
Oral vitamin D₃ supplementation was administered for 4-12 months at 500-1200 IU/day (this is a really small amount to make a statistical change in blood work). Supplementation reduced the rate of severe asthma attacks from 0.44 to 0.22 per person. Supplementation also decreased the risk for hospitalization or emergency room visit from 6% reducing to 3% per 100 patients.
“What we don’t know is whether the benefits of vitamin D were restricted just to patients who were vitamin D–deficient or whether they were experienced by everybody, irrespective of their baseline status,” Dr Martineau explained.
Researchers continue to study the data about vitamin D3 supplementation and asthma with subgroup analyses and further testing.
According to Medscape:
“It is estimated that about 1 billion people around the world have vitamin D levels below 75 nmol/L, which is generally considered insufficient; levels below 50 nmol/L are considered deficient. In a large proportion of study participants, levels of vitamin D were deficient or insufficient. Mean/median baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations ranged from 48 to 89 nmol/L. In a small minority of participants, levels were below 25 nmol/L, which is considered to be profoundly deficient.
“In the context of other vitamin D studies done by us and others, the benefits of supplementation tend to be stronger in those with lower levels,” said Dr Martineau. “Our hypothesis is that we will see more marked effects in people with lower levels.”
Vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs and induces innate antimicrobial mechanisms, he explained.”
“I think the association is there. At this point, it would be perfectly legitimate for general practitioners, pediatricians, and even pulmonologists who are following people with asthma to put them all on 500 to 1000 units of vitamin D a day,” Fernando Martinez, MD, director of the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson said.
“For adults who have persistent exacerbations, measuring vitamin D levels would also be justified, and if they have low levels, you could give them even more,” said Dr Martinez.
European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress 2016: Abstract PA4112. Presented September 6, 2016.