HomeLocal NewsDoctors on Call: Vitamin D alleviates asthma

Doctors on Call: Vitamin D alleviates asthma

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Vitamin D alleviates asthma
Vitamin D is the “new” vitamin of choice. Is it really new though? Vitamin D3 is produced in your body naturally by exposure to a certain kind of sunlight.

Vitamin D has been found instrumental in treating cancers, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone strength, physical performance, immune system function and infections.

A new research article describes the benefits for vitamin D supplementation in the management of asthma. These findings were published in the September issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The research team reviewed nearly six decades worth of literature on vitamin D status and asthma.
The findings were profound; vitamin D deficiency was linked to narrower airways, decreased lung function, and poor asthma control.

Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include obesity, lack of exercise, increased amounts of stress, and poor dietary factors.

Unfortunately Africans were identified as having a heightened risk of the deficiency.

Living in westernised countries was also mentioned as a causative factor according to researchers.
Vitamin D supplementation can reduce the effects asthma by blocking the cascade of inflammation-causing proteins in the lung. It also increases production of the protein interleukin-10, which has anti-inflammatory effects.

Food sources include fish, eggs, and dairy products. It is also added to multivitamins.

Remember, your body also produces Vitamin D3 in sunlight exposure. It has been termed the “sunshine” vitamin.

When do you normally have the worst symptoms of asthma? Is it summer or winter? Asthma usually gets worse in the winter months, when vitamin D is down.

What is the problem that needs to be addressed? You can not control the seasons.

Winter is an annual event and flu season come along with it. That is the primary reason for parents and their children to increase vitamin D levels right now during the summer months.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 10, 2010 demonstrated a significant reduction in flu in school-going children.

How was this achieved?
Vitamin D supplementation during the winter months.
The Institute of Medicine is now considering raising its guidelines for vitamin D intake. The current guidelines are for 200 IU/day, which is clearly not enough.

Low vitamin D linked to worse asthma, more inhalers
If you have low vitamin D levels, your asthma will be worse and you will have to take more medication to try control it. The new research suggests that if we normalise vitamin D levels, you will not need medication to control the inflammation.

This is especially important to many parents with children with asthma.

If you are not concerned about the side effects of the inhaled steroids, you should be. If there was a way to reduce the medication or eliminate would you do that for your child?

Steroid side effects in children
A child’s rate of growth can be affected by inhaled steroids. Vertical growth does not stop on inhaled steroids, but it does slow down. A child’s height difference on an inhaled steroid primarily occurs in the first couple years of treatment.

While the decrease in growth rate sounds concerning, this is the lesser of two evils: If a child’s asthma is not controlled, their growth rate will be permanently affected, and their entire health is in jeopardy.

The solution is prevention. Do not get the condition.
Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
Inhaled steroids are known to increase the risk of developing osteoporosis in adults.

Prevention of this effect of inhaled steroids occurs with supplemental vitamin D and calcium in the diet, weight bearing exercises (such as walking), and minimising/eliminating the use of inhaled steroids and other anti-inflammatory medication.

Cataracts and glaucoma
Inhaled steroids have also been found to increase formation of cataracts and glaucoma in the elderly.
If you plan to be able to see when you’re older, take care of your asthma symptoms now.

Did you notice that there were different conditions associated with children, adults, and the elderly? Everyone is affected by these medications.
The solution is simple. Take care of your diet, exercise regular, reduce stress, and supplement vitamin D.

Do not use vitamins to treat your medical condition. The purpose of taking a supplement, changing/improving one’s diet and becoming more physically active is not to treat a condition.
The purpose of lifestyle factors is to improve how the body is able to heal and function.

We would like to thank all of our readers for the detailed questions and recommendations for future topics.

This is a reader-directed column. Please email us further questions.

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