Asthma researchers have conducted a recent review on literature of over five decades on the relationship of vitamin D and asthma. The evidence appears to suggest that vitamin D deficiency can be associated with lower functioning of the lungs and worse asthma control. Vitamin D deficiency can be quite common and in some studies it has been estimated to be present in more than one third of children and adolescents in the US. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in westernized countries, in obese individuals and in those of African American ethnicity.
It is essential to have a dialogue with your asthma specialist or health care practitioner regarding the right medications to keep your asthma under control and avoid triggers. I have found an asthma action plan is a good way for you to be actively involved in fostering a "team" approach in controlling asthma symptoms. Remember, it is important to always discuss the use of supplements and vitamins (such as vitamin D) with your asthma doctor or allergist. It is not designed to replace your asthma treatment but may have a role in complementing your existing treatment of this condition.
What is the right decision for a patient with asthma when it comes to vitamin D? Well it all depends; previous studies have not yet looked at what the benefit of taking vitamin D would have in those with asthma. Longer term research will be necessary to determine the appropriate role of this vitamin going forward although it appears that having a deficiency of vitamin D can possibly lead to worsening asthma.
The level of vitamin can help in determining whether indeed you are getting an adequate amount from your diet and/or exposure to sunlight. The levels can vary depending on seasonal factors such as winter-spring vs. summer-fall, when levels are usually higher. So ask your doctor about a vitamin D blood test to see what your level of this valuable vitamin is so you can best determine with their assistance whether a supplement is necessary for you or a family member. What is your current intake of vitamin D rich foods, such as diary products like milk and cheese, and fortified foods like cereals?
Consumers and patients can take a simple test online to determine how asthma symptoms may be affecting you and to help develop a personalized relief plan at www.allergyandasthmarelief.org. Stay tuned for more information on the role of vitamin D and asthma!
Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.