vitamin D and autoimmune diseaseAsthma has become more common in the last several years. While there is no known cure, many patients have managed their asthma with medication and avoiding allergens and other triggers.

According to a recent article published in the journal Allergy, assessing and increasing Vitamin D levels accordingly could help manage asthma attacks. Researchers analyzed the medical records of approximately four million members of Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest health care provider. The Vitamin D levels of 307,900 people were measured between 2008 and 2012. Asthma patients with a Vitamin D deficiency were 25% more likely than other asthmatics to have had at least one flare-up in the recent past.

“Vitamin D has significant immunomodulatory effects and, as such, was believed to have an effect on asthma – an immunologically mediated disease,” said Dr. Confino-Cohen. “But most of the existing data regarding Vitamin D and asthma came from the pediatric population and was inconsistent. Our present study is unique because the study population of young adults is very large and ‘uncontaminated’ by other diseases.”

In addition, researchers found that Vitamin D-deficient asthmatics were at a higher risk of an asthma attack. “Uncontrolled asthma” was defined as being prescribed at least five rescue inhalers, one prescription of oral corticosteroids, or visiting the doctor for asthma at least four times in a single year.

The results demonstrated the link between Vitamin D and asthma and the beneficial effects of Vitamin D in reducing exacerbations. Asthma patients who experience recurrent exacerbations should have their Vitamin D levels checked and supplement when necessary. Increasing Vitamin D levels is something we can easily do to improve the patients’ quality of life.

While most of the Vitamin D in our bodies comes from exposure to the sun, most of us need to obtain Vitamin D from other sources. The majority of us are deficient and there are several reasons for that. Many people avoid the sun due to the dangers of overexposure. In addition, most of us spend so much time inside under fluorescent lights and away from natural light. Also, depending on what latitude you are at and the time of year, you may not be able to get adequate vitamin D from the sun. For those people that spend a lot of time in the sun, most have eighty percent of their bodies covered preventing optimal Vitamin D absorption.

Source: R. Confino-Cohen, I. Brufman, A. Goldberg, B. S. Feldman. Vitamin D, asthma prevalence and asthma exacerbations: a large adult population-based study.Allergy, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/all.12508

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