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Low levels of vitamin D make asthma worse

The National Jewish Health is one of the top lung hospitals in the US - you can google their website to see what they do - but here is an article about a recent study they did into Vitamin D and asthma.

Selected quotes:

'Asthmatics with low levels of vitamin D may suffer more severely from the disease than patients with sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to a study conducted by researchers from National Jewish Health in Denver and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

""Our findings suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with worse asthma,"" lead researcher E. Rand Sutherland said.'

'The researchers measured the vitamin D blood levels of 54 asthma patients, along with their lung function, airway hyper-responsiveness and response to steroid drug treatment.

Airway hyper-responsiveness measures the air passages' tendency to constrict, leading to breathing difficulty.

The researchers found that hyper-responsiveness was twice as high in patients with vitamin D levels below 30 nanograms per milliliter, lung function was worse, and the body responded more poorly to steroid therapy.

In addition, the bodies of people with low vitamin D levels produced more or the immune system signaling chemical TNF-alpha, which increases inflammation.

""It may be that vitamin D is acting as a modifier of the immune system or a modifier of steroid response in ways that are relevant to people with asthma,"" Sutherland said.

""There is a potential that restoring normal vitamin D levels in people with asthma may help improve their asthma.""'

'Dr. Michael F. Holick, director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, called this ""a very nice study that confirms previous observations that vitamin D enhances lung function.""

""It is also known that glucocorticoids [steroids] increase the destruction of vitamin D, thus making patients with asthma at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, which in turn decreases lung function and makes their disease worse,"" he said.

Holick thinks most people, asthmatic or not, get too little D and should take supplements.

""It's pretty clear that you need a minimum of 1,400 and up to 2,000 IU a day, and if you are obese, you probably need at least one and a half to two times as much, because the fat sequesters the vitamin D,"" Holick said. ""We now recognize that you can take up to 10,000 IUs a day and not worry about any untoward toxicity.""'

4 Replies

Thanks for posting this article

I found it very interesting as I was diagnosed with quite bad Vitamin D defiency only 2 weeks ago. I had to have a very high dose injection and am now taking tablet every day but still feel no better.

Given me somthing to think about as I was wondering why this has happened to me


Hi PamPam,

According to various Vitamin D experts a dose of approximately 50,000 IUs (international units) is needed weekly for 2 to 3 months to 'fill the tank' and get Vitamin D up to minimum required levels. Some experts believe it takes up to 6 months. When I started on Vitamin D3 I personally decided to take 7,200 IUs per day for 3 months and I am now in my fourth month.

There is great debate in the medical community about what level of Vitamin D we need in our blood/bodies but many of the World's experts in this matter now think that the levels considered normal by Doctors both in the US and UK are far too low.

Also, most GPs prescribe Vitamin D2 to patients in this country which is basically the cheap version and several experts say it is pointless prescribing it as D2 is not the form our own body produces from sunlight. Our bodies produce Vitamin D in the D3 form from sunlight and hence many experts reccommend taking Vitamin D3 on a daily basis. I am not connected with this company in any way but, personally, I take Vitamin D3 in a softgel form made by a firm called Healthy Origins and you can find sellers of them on eBay and on Amazon UK.

I know of several people who have taken Vitamin D3 and who have had remarkable change for the better in various symptoms within a matter of weeks of starting their doses. I myself had terrible pain in my sternum for years and numerous Doctors would look at me as if I was mad - the pain was so bad I could not bear to touch my sternum and it caused me pain and anxiety when breathing but, within a fortnight or so of taking Vitamin D3, my pain subsided to a dull ache and now, some 3 months or so later, I hardly feel anything there at all. I can poke myself in the sternum quite happily now all day and could not do that for most of my life.

There is an awful lot to read on this but below are some links that will get you started:

Grassrootshealth is a non-profit organisation of Doctors in the US and Canada who are lobbying for Vitamin D being vital for our health. - this is the site of Dr. John Carnell who has been advocating Vitamin D3 for several years now. Loads of info on this site about dose, what to take, etc, etc and in the archives letters/emails from asthmatics who claim that Vitamin D has changed their lives for the better.

The Father of all of this, perhaps, is Professor Michael Hollick who, in April, brought out an excellent book on Vitamin D but you can find most of his research online in numerous articles and in videos on Youtube. Here is his website:

Hope this helps.


Thanks for this Bob, you certainly know your stuff here!

My pain seems to be in my lower back, down my legs and arms. Sometimes so painful i can hardly get up stairs and has ben going on for over a year.

I didnt take the prescribed vitamin d tablets as my calcium levels were not low and all the prescribed vitamin d tablets in the Uk also contain calcium, which can cause side effects if your levels arent low. I bought tablets from Holland and barret health shop instead and it is the D3 vitamin d in these tablets. Been taking them just over two weeks and also had a one off very high dose injection due to me parathyroid levels being high but i dont really feel any different unfortunately. might just be taking a while to kick in but i thought the injection would have sped it up. I'll stick with it another few weeks before thinking of going back to the GP

In the meantime I will do as much research as I can and have a look at the links you kindly provided.

Thanks for your advice


Hi PamPam,

A few points here.

I started out on the Holland & Barret D3 tablets and they were fine, slowly worked for me but when I moved to the Healthy Origins softgels things improved rapidly for myself - hence why I suggsted them.

The symptoms you describe are similar to my female friend, early 50s, who was suffering from bone and muscle pain in her forearms, hips and lower back for several years. The pain was described as being sharp and accute by her, had seen several Doctors but without any success from the Docs. I am no Doc - no medical background at all - but from my own experience and from reading up on Vitamin D it sounded as if this was a classic case of osteomalacia.

She began taking 7,200 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily and 4 days later texted me to tell me early in the moring to say that the sharp pain had gone, that it had been replaced by a dull ache, and she described it as 'remarkable'. She has now been on Vitamin D3, same dose daily, for 5 weeks now and her dull ache is lessening all the time. She was insistent, on the two times I saw her this week, that I order some more D3 for her and also for her friends.

There is a lot of information on the various Vitamin D links I posted earlier about Doctors often giving the WRONG blood tests for Vitamin D which either, wrongly, show that there is no Vitamin D deficiency and/or that Calcium levels are fine or too high. Here is a link to such information:

Regarding the parathyroid hormone, again, if you type that into the VitaminDCouncil's search box you will find a large number of articles that deal with this, various health issues and how they relate to Vitamin D.

Here is the link in tiny url form:

If you go to Youtube you can watch, link below, a lecture by Professor Hollick in which he describes a lady who was referred to him with similar pain throughout her body, and who was unable to get out of bed, to what you describe. She had spent thousands of Dollars on numerous tests and some Doctors had alluded that it was all in her mind. In the end she got referred to Professor Hollick, the first thing he did was give her a Vitamin D test, learnt that she was chronically deficient in Vitamin D and he put her on high doses of Vitamin D - within several weeks her pain had reduced and she was walking again.

If you read the literature on Vitamin D you will read numerous stories that are similar and also studies done of elderly people in nursing homes who are unable to get out of their beds/chairs - they are indoors all day, get virtually no sunlight and are Vitamin D deficient so they end up with osteomalacia, get terrible bone and muscle pain and eventually are unable to get up but, when given high doses of Vitamin D, their pain goes and they start walking again.

The above video is an eye-opener and is a lecturer by Professor Hollick to other Doctors.

There is a similar anecdotal story from an accute asthma sufferer over on the VitaminDCouncil website - asthma so bad that she could barely walk, was getting worse and worse for years, went on a high dose of Vitamin D and a couple of months later went skiing!

I could rant on about this all the time but, bottom line, we evolved over millions of years in the Sun and Vitamin D was core to us living. Today, most of us work inside in offices, are told to avoid the Sun, especially between 11AM and 3PM, and then, worst of all, we smear ourselves in sunblock, which stops 98% of Vitamin D creation, when we go out.

So, in North America and Europe and Oz and NZ we have MS, hayfever, asthma, loads of cancers but when you look at people who live in the Sun near the Equator virtually all the above diseases are non-existent!

You have started on the right road IMPO PamPam, educate yourself and then go and educate your GP and friends.

When I look back on my own health I was fine up until the mid-90s when, after getting badly sunburnt whilst painting a metal garage roof on an overcast day, I swore never to go out in the Sun again and get burnt... so I began religiously smearing myself in sun factor 50 sunblock from head to toe whenever I went out in the sun... which, I now know, was cutting out 98% of my Vitamin D creation and simply making myself ill... shortly afterwards, about a year later, I developed asthma and just got worse and worse. I note that, a few weeks ago, one of the major sunblock companies announced a new version of sunblock which contains Vitamin D - perhaps they are worried about lawsuits in the future?

Best of luck.


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