Study Links Vitamin D Deficiency and Asthma Severity

'Sept 10, 2010 -- Vitamin D is the new ""it"" vitamin. A number of studies link its deficiency to a host of medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Now, a new review article makes the case for vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of asthma. The findings appear in the September issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Researchers reviewed nearly 60 years' worth of literature on vitamin D status and asthma. They found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased airway reactivity, lower lung functions, and worse asthma control. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include obesity, being African-American, and living in Westernized countries, the researchers report. These are also populations known to be at higher risk for developing asthma.

Vitamin D supplementation may improve asthma control by blocking the cascade of inflammation-causing proteins in the lung, as well as increasing production of the protein interleukin-10, which has anti-inflammatory effects, the study authors suggest.'

'The next step is long-term trials that look at the effects of vitamin D supplementation in people with asthma, the study authors say.

""If we give supplemental vitamin D and measure asthma outcomes over a year, do you get better and that is the key,"" he says. ""There is a lot of circumstantial evidence, but we need to do definitive studies with vitamin D interventions to see what happens.""

Michael Holick, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine and the director of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory there, thinks the jury is in regarding the role that vitamin D supplementation can and should play in treating and preventing asthma.

""This article provides strong evidence that vitamin D is altering the immune system and preventing asthma at a biochemical level,"" he says.'

'""Vitamin D ... has effects on many immune cells and we are learning more and more about the impact that it can have on allergic diseases such as asthma,"" says Pia Hauk, MD, an assistant professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver.

""If you have low vitamin D levels, your asthma may be worse and you may have to take more medication to control it,"" she says. But ""new research suggests that if we normalize vitamin D levels, you may need less medication to get control of the inflammation.""

This is important to many parents, she says.'

webmd.com/asthma/news/20100...

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  • From the same study.

    '""Evidence suggests that vitamin D has a number of biologic factors that are important in regulating key mechanisms in asthma,"" Sandhu averred.

    While Vitamin D increases the synthesis of interleukin 10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, it concurrently inhibits dendritic cell activation by downsizing the expression of co-stimulatory molecules CD40 and CD80/86.

    Vitamin D is also proficient in inducing the expression of several anti-infective molecules, such as cathelicidin.

    Vitamin D supplementation, researchers believe, may inhibit the influx of inflammatory cytokines in the lungs and increase the secretion of interleukin 10 by T-regulatory cells and dendritic cells, leading to an improved asthma control.'

    themedguru.com/20100910/new...

  • What's with quoting huge chunks from other web pages? Doesn't mean anything more than a simple sentence on the topic.

  • Everytime I post something on Vitamin D you nip in and write some biting negative remark don't you - why is this?

    Are you one of these asthma sufferers who is not prepared to open her mind to the possibility that there might be new research that may, just may, help millions of asthma sufferers to be less reliant on asthma medication - perhaps even, in time, to find a way to treat asthma without medication?

    Don't you think it is wonderful that there are Doctors researching how to treat asthma and that more and more lung experts, the World over, are now getting very excited about how Vitamin D works in the lungs in reducing inflamation?

    I do not understand why you have to post such negative remarks anytime I post links to new research on something that is exciting a lot of asthma specialists the World over.

    I am merely trying to inform fellow asthma sufferers and hoping to help them by making them aware of this latest research. Who knows, some people on here might decide to investigate it further? They might find the information to be very interesting. They might decide to start taking Vitamin D? It might, just might, help them in time to reduce their reliance on asthma medication.

    Isn't this place about sharing ideas, information and helping each other to cope with this lousy chronic illness?

    On Radio Fivelive this morning Asthma UK were responding to negative remarks that a boxer made about asthma sufferers and the Olympic swimmer Karen Pickering was also interviewed to help defend asthma sufferers. The journalist interveiwing her thought that asthma was a pretty minor complaint and Karen Pickering had to set her right - it is bad enough that we have to deal with such hostile and misinformed behaviour from non-asthma sufferers for us to be turning on each other.

    To answer you question:

    I posted the extracts on here so that posters can have a quick glimpse/read of the research and then, if interested, they can use the posted links and go read the full articles if they so wish.

    This is standard Internet netiquette used on millions of Internet forums and blogs so I am not doing anything that millions of forums users and bloggers do day in day out.

    Open your mind. Let the light shine in.

  • I don't think GrannyMo is being negative towards you. The trouble is that many of us have such severe or in many of our cases Brittle asthma that we rely on a whole cocktail of medications just to keep us alive, out of hospital as much as possible and being able to function normally as far as we are able. All research is interesting but everything should be seen with an open mind and needs to be questioned. We all have slightly different presentations of asthma and require different types and combinations of therapy. It is very unlikely, as you often propose in your Vitamin D monologues, that for a lot of us simply taking or increasing our intake of Vitamin D / Sunlight is going to make a significant difference to our quality of life or to the amount of medication we have to take. If that really was the case then I'm sure most of us would be doing it already and the NHS would be saving money by having Vitamin D as a cheap asthma medication rather than spending billions on expensive drugs. It can feel a little down heartening to constantly read your monologues, as the underlying message (whether you intend this or not) is ""why are you being so stupid and not taking Vitamin D because it will cure you?"". Believe me, if taking Vitamin D would cure me, I would be doing it (actually I do take Vitamin D, the 'correct' type - yes I've read your monologues) and it hasn't cured me. If it's worked for you, then I'm really pleased for you, it's always great to hear success stories and to share information about things we may not have considered, but to push something almost as a cure and to be dismissive of those who choose not to take this route can be very demoralising.

  • I've read the vitamin D debate, an it's just the 'NOW' buzz word and last year it was 'Buteyko' yes for some these alternative HELP and I emphasise help because it's not and never will be a cure for the majority on this forum. For those with the very mild forms of asthma, and they don't frequent this forum then simple changing of breathing or vitamin x,y,z may be enough to cure them.

    I've tried a lot of alternatives to compliment conventional medication and I'm in a better position than most to judge their effectiveness on me due to peak flow and FEV1 data recorded daily for just over two years.

    buteyko never worked for me and just made GERD worse, but i don't deny it may help some.

    Vitamin D supplements I've taken for the last 3 months and sadly no improvement, the sun however does and I believe there is more to this than just Vitamin D.

    Two things I have found help are the Neil Med sinus rise, and again maybe not for everyone as Ratty kindly pointed out 'we're all different', but something I do believe and is well documented for decades is the use of vitamin C to prevent colds and infections. Over winter 1000mg a day and garlic for good measure to boost your immune system works.

  • In the medical profession it is well known that some patients prefer the illness to the cure. They get off on being able to boast about their medication, their doses and all the doctors they have to see. It is a perverse ego thing.

    I am not saying that this is the case with some posters on here but it is the impression I get from time to time when reading some posts.

    I am not saying that Vitamin D will cure asthma nor am I saying that it will improve asthma in all people BUT I am saying that it is interesting research and it should be of interest to all on this forum - frankly, I find it both odd and disturbing that people seem so hostile to any discussion on here that it not about big pharma medication.

    Btw, it is simply ludicrous to liken Vitamin D to that Butekyo breathing method - typical loss of argument strategy in trying to divert one discussion onto another.

    There are now so many top asthma doctors, medical specialists and medical researchers looking into the relationship between Vitamin D and asthma that the information should be openly debated here and not rubbished every time it is mentioned - some of the people researching this are amongst the top lung and asthma experts in the world for goodness sake!!! How can people - asthma sufferers - be so dismissive of these doctors... doctors who are trying to help us?

    Or do people on here know more than them?

    I find the mentality here sometimes to be very closed minded I have to say. It seems very much a closed clique community where a small clique revel in boasting about how many different inhalers they have and how many they have to take. Anyone who does not cow-down to the clique is singled out and attacked or ridiculed - no wonder there are so few people posting regularly on here when the disease of asthma has millions of sufferers in the UK. There should be thousands of people posting on here daily as there are on other disease specific medical information forums.

    I wish you all the best and hope that your asthma improves in the months and years ahead

    Bye.

  • Bob,

    I do actually agree that we do need to keep and open mind, and discuss these complimentary therapies, mainly why I've tried some and they don't work on me. You've not been here as long as me, but nearly two years ago I started a topic on vitamins and cures for asthma and at the time the main replies were not very supportive or accepting.

    The forum has matured over that time and acceptance of trying things to compliment conventional medications has grown, which in my eyes is a good thing. Modern medicine doesn't hold all the answers, but we need lots more research on alternatives, or as someone put on facebook in the week why don't the drugs companies work on a cure instead of just maintaining and controlling symptoms, simple answer why the don't and lack of research into alternatives is profits.

    "" It seems very much a closed clique community where a small clique revel in boasting about how many different inhalers they have and how many they have to take. Anyone who does not cow-down to the clique is singled out and attacked or ridiculed

    There should be thousands of people posting on here daily as there are on other disease specific medical information forums.""

    I actually find this sadly to be quite accurate although not so much as in previous years, like everything change happens slowly.

    Chris

  • I know this is going off the subject of Vit D but I have to respond to a comment that has been made, to the effect that forum users are narrow minded and some enjoy boasting about the number of inhalers they use etc.

    No one enjoys being ill and most of the forum users are really struggling with their asthma or (in my case) their children's asthma. And some have lost loved ones to asthma. On the whole I think it is a place of kindness and compassion, and people are trying to help and encourage each other. For myself, I have learnt a lot and to know that I am not alone in my struggle is sort of comforting.

    Edit. Have to add that I am a lifelong asthmatic too, it's not just my son. I read everything with interest.

  • I took a little time to do a quick dig around the scientific journals I was required to read and take notes, when I worked in the Infections and Immunity Dept of a certain university.

    Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology had an article on Vitamin D and it's apparent link to asthma etc.

    If you will forgive me, I found this to be quite interesting as shows the other side of the coin so to speak.

    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

  • GM, yeh if you look at that publication and others you'll find similar interesting reports, BTW the link you posted has a space that needs removing, or tinyurl.com/35fx53f

  • I confess now that I haven't read all the links provided, but I do know that at Heartlands there are various researchers looking into the link between vitamin deficiency and asthma severity.

    I have absorption problems and as a result I have very low levels of the fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D. I also have very severe asthma. Whether or not there is any link, I don't know, but I am certainly trying to increase my vitamin D levels as low levels have also been linked with many other unpleasant conditions, including multiple sclerosis and various cancers. Whether or not my asthma will improve will be interesting to see....

  • I think it's important to note that the study referred to is a review of studies, not an intervention study, and the study authors themselves note that:

    ""...'The next step is long-term trials that look at the effects of vitamin D supplementation in people with asthma, the study authors say...""

    I genuinely think that everybody on this forum would be simply delighted if good evidence emerged for vitamin D supplementation as an aid to controlling asthma and possibly reducing medication. But at present, as the study authors say, the evidence is circumstantial so we have to wait for more definitive data. That is a realistic, cautious position which I don't find negative or indeed indicative of any desire to base one's identity on one's asthma diagnosis.

    It's interesting that Australia, a sunny country, has one of the world's highest prevalences of asthma, particularly among its indigenous peoples - tinyurl.com/38scpw2

    My husband, a very asthmatic child and young adult, grew up there in the 1960s and has a fine crop of moles now from all the running around he did in the sun in the days before children were slathered in sunscreen.

  • I think with any study into medical practice you have to look at things objectivly what might work for the study group but not others. Medicine need to be looked at holisticly rather than on each thing a combination of things might work but indervidually they dont!

    Taking extra vitamins is always a good idea for us on the more severe end of asthma due to the amounts of medication we are on

  • hi All,

    i have not read the litrature at all,

    but one of the cons at Maidstone hospital in kent who i dont think is a chest physician Dr Holden i think,

    he is very pasionate about vitamind D and lower levels, he has tested me but i havnt got any results, i believe he is doing research into,

    it is obviously the flavour of the month,

    we should all keep our eyes and ears open, we can all learn something, small steps and small hope,

    george x

  • Quite right. Like all research, there's big steps and little 'uns.

    They were looking for the quark when I started in Natural Philosophy in the 70s and at last they've found evidence it exists. So here's hoping on all asthma research projects too.

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