The exact etiology of asthma still remains a mystery to health care practitioners. Part of the difficulty is that there are numerous forms and types of asthma and varying degrees of severity in the categories. It is well known that asthma cases are on the increase dramatically since the 1960s, and many theories exist to account for this—diet changes, environmental influences, a decrease in exercise and a lack of exposure to sunlight.(1) There has been significant research showing a correlation between Vitamin D intake and reduction in asthma severity.
Vitamin D has long been recognized to reduce inflammation (2), and “boost” the immune system. It has been theorized that this reduction in inflammation could help individuals suffering from asthma since asthma is inflammation of the airways. The immune system helps the body to fight off infections, so, in turn, reducing the chances of inflammation and subsequent infections after attacks.(3)
There are numerous studies linking Vitamin D intake with reduction in childhood asthma attacks and frequency, however, more research needs to be done to see if proper dosing of Vitamin D to newborns and infants can decrease the likelihood of developing asthma later in life.(4)
People living in areas with less sunshine, overcast winters and lower temperatures had higher rates of asthma and also had lower blood levels of Vitamin D. The lower Vitamin D levels make sense since this vitamin is produced by the body when in contact with sunlight. The correlation for this is that we have many studies showing people that spend more time in the sun have reduced risk of asthma and reduced number of attacks.(5)(6)
The bottom line is, there are studies that show a major correlation between Vitamin D intake and decreased asthma incidence and attacks in children, and studies that show very little correlation(especially in adolescents and adults).(7) Should we all take Vitamin during our lifetime as a preventative for asthma and severity of attacks if you have the disease? How does this affect me and my family? The best recommendation from the Vitamin D Council is: children take 1,000 units of Vitamin D a day for every 25 pounds of their weight up to 5,000 units for a 125 pound child or adolescent. The same 5,000 units a day for adults-although the federal government has stated that up to 10,000 units will probably do you no harm. Vitamin D is stored in the body fat, so it is possible to over due it. Stick to the guidelines and consult your health care professional if you have and questions.
The Vitamin D Council also recommends that pregnant women take 6,000 units a day of D. How this affects the risk of your child developing asthma later in life is not known, but it does appear to reduce some of the complications associated with pregnancy.(8)
In summary, my best advice is to follow the guidelines of the Vitamin D council for ALL age groups. If taken appropriately, Vitamin D can’t hurt you and it most certainly can help with your immune system, an increase in skeletal strength, cardiovascular health, etc. Get outside, exercise and enjoy the sunshine(in Moderation), take your appropriate supplements and consult your health care professional with any questions!
Charles A. Matlach, DDS MM
Clinical Associate Director, AEGD
A.T.Still University Az School of Dentistry and Oral Health
5835 E. Still Circle
Mesa, Az. 85206
- National Institute of Health. What is Asthma? 2014
- Gupta, A., Bush, A., Hawrylowicz., et al., Vitamin D and Asthma in Children.
Paediatr Respir Rev, 2012. 13(4): p. 236-43
- Niruban, S.J., Alagiakrishan, K., Beach,J., et al., Association Between Vitamin D
And Respiratory Outcomes in Canadian Adolescents and Adults. J Asthma, 2015: p.1-33
- Krstic, G., Asthma Prevalence Associated with Geographical Latitude and Regional Insolation
- In the United Sates of America and Australia Plos One, 2011. 6(4): p. e14892
- Castro, M., et al., Effect of Vitamin D3 on Asthma Treatment Failures in Adults with Severe
Bronchial Asthma and lower Vitamin D Levels. JAMA, 2014. 311(20): p. 2083-91
- Wagner, CL., Baggerly, C., McDonnell, S., Baggerly, KA., French, CB., et al., Post Hoc Analysis
- Of Vitamin D Status and Reduced Risk of Preterm Birth in Two Vitamin D Pregnancy Cohort Compared with South Carolina March of Dimes Rates. Steroid Biochem Mol Bio. 2015 Nov7