Vitamin D 'significantly reduces severe asthma attacks'
Taking vitamin D supplements in addition to asthma medication may cut the risk of severe asthma attacks, researchers report.
An independent review by the Cochrane research body analysed nine recent clinical trials - seven involving 435 children and two studies involving 658 adults, lasting up to a year.
Accordingly, researchers found that giving an oral vitamin D supplement reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring hospital admission or emergency department attendance from 6 per cent to around 3 per cent. They also found that taking vitamin D supplements reduced the rate of asthma attacks needing treatment with steroid tablets.
The report authors added that while taking vitamin D did not improve lung function or day-to-day asthma symptoms, it also did not increase the risk of side effects at the doses that were tested.
Lead author Professor Adrian Martineau from the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research said while the results were “exciting” some caution is warranted.
“First, the findings relating to severe asthma attacks come from just three trials: most of the patients enrolled in these studies were adults with mild or moderate asthma,” he explained.
“Second, it is not yet clear whether vitamin D supplements can reduce risk of severe asthma attacks in all patients, or whether this effect is just seen in those who have low vitamin D levels to start with.”
Professor Martineau hopes to undertake further analyses and vitamins D trials with children and adults with severe asthma over the next few months in order to find out whether these patient groups will also benefit.
In July (16), Public Health England recommended that everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements in autumn and winter. An extensive review of evidence suggested everyone over the age of one needs to consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day in order to protect bone and muscle health.
In the U.K., 5.4 million people are being treated for asthma, a chronic conditions of which symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.