Asthma patients who suffer from severe attacks, or exacerbations, were at a lower risk of having an attack and less likely to need hospital treatment if they had been taking regular Vitamin D doses, according to a major review of evidence.
They were also less likely to need treatment with steroid tablets, the analysis showed.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects more than five million people in the UK. It can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortage of breath.
Vitamin D in children and adults has been linked to lowering the risk of asthma attacks.
Evidence suggests it may help prevent respiratory infections, such as the common cold, which can lead to exacerbations in patients.
The trials were organised by Cochrane, a not-for-profit network of health professionals, after experts noticed a link between low levels of the vitamin in asthmatics and an increased risk of attacks.
Speaking at a review of the research at London’s Science Media Centre on Monday, lead research author Professor Adrian Martineau said: “Asthma is a rising problem in the UK, with one out of 11 people receiving treatment for it every day.
“Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, as well as enhancing bone development, helps the development of at least 35 other tissues and white blood cells. This can boost immunity against other illnesses and dampen down inflammation.”
The investigation involved nine trials with 1,093 people with different levels of asthma. The patients, from a range of ethnic backgrounds, were given different dosages over six to 12-month periods.
Asked if taking additional vitamin D supplements is the most effective way to boost levels in the blood, he said: “The absorption of the quantity of the vitamin into the bloodstream is less controlled when taken as pills, but emerging evidence suggests it is more effective to take a regular dose than just the strong and widely spaced apart bursts we get from exposure to the sun.”
GP Dr Rebecca Normansell said: “We would recommend anybody to take the simple blood test to determine their vitamin D levels, and to talk to a GP or pharmacist for advice.”
Prof Martineau added: “We would not encourage any asthma patients to replace their regular medication with vitamin D supplements, but to consider taking them in addition to it.” According to Mirror.co.uk.