Boosting Vitamin D Levels Might Improve Asthma Symptoms

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If you’re having trouble getting your child’s asthma under control, the answer might be as simple as upping their playtime out in the sunshine.

A new study is showing that people with asthma who have low levels of vitamin D may be 25% more likely to experience recurrent exacerbations.

Researchers looked at more than 300,000 people whose vitamin D blood levels were recorded, and found a significant association between low levels and the number and severity of attacks in those who had asthma. The lower the vitamin D level, the greater number of asthma attacks they person suffered.

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The study’s lead author suggested that before people start taking more medications to control their asthma, they should have their vitamin D levels tested — and could benefit from a vitamin D supplement.

Although a study published in the spring claimed that vitamin D supplementation doesn’t improve asthma symptoms in children, study author Dr. Ronit Confino-Cohen is confident that it’s worth a try.

Vitamin D helps a body’s immune system by regulating immune responses, which Dr. Confino-Cohen believes hinders asthma’s “control” over a person’s immune system.

“Increasing vitamin D levels is something we can easily do to improve patients’ quality of life,” said Dr. Confino-Cohen. “We know a lot about this disease and many therapeutic options are available, so it’s quite frustrating that the prevalence of asthma is not decreasing and many patients suffer exacerbations and significant impairment in their quality of life.”

The Vitamin D Council says children should get about 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per 25 lbs of body weight, and adults should get 5,000 IU daily. But the Food and Nutrition Board recommendations are much lower (600 IU for children, and 600 IU for adults). As always, talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

Looking to boost your vitamin D levels? Here are a few sources …

  • Sunshine: Aim for 15-25 minutes of direct sunshine (nope, not through a window) and remember that you’re less likely to absorb vitamin D in the winter, and at higher altitudes.
  • Supplements: Discuss a dosage with your doctor, because too much vitamin D can be toxic. But once you know how much to take, you can down it in a single dose each day.
  • Milk: Most milks in the U.S. are fortified with vitamin D, which is why people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies often have low levels of vitamin D.
  • Egg yolks: Those sunny middles are the same color as the sun for good reason! They’re packed with vitamin D.
  • Liver: Yuck. But … effective.
  • Fortified orange juice: Check the label, because not all brands are fortified.
  • Fish: Fattier options like tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel can give you a healthy hit of vitamin D, and improve heart health at the same time.
  • Cod liver oil: A single tablespoon contains twice the vitamin D that’s recommended, but don’t worry — it’s still below the daily maximum.

H/T NY Times

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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