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Does Vitamin D Reduce Asthma Attacks? A New Study Claims It Works

Inhalers included, there's now an additional method that can help revitalize the health of asthma sufferers. Researchers publishing their findings in the Cochrane Library conducted a double-blind study involving 435 children and 658 adults, hoping to discover whether vitamin D helps reduce asthma attacks. Luckily, their predictions were right; According to the group's findings, supplementing with vitamin D actually works.

Though the exact reason for the correlation is not yet known, the study's results speak for themselves. Taking oral, vitamin D supplements "reduced the risk of attacks requiring medication by 37 percent." Using anywhere from 400 to 4,000 units per subject per day, positive trends were shown overall. Vitamin D also proved to have a positive effect in emergency situations; Subjects who took the supplements had a 60 percent decrease in acute asthma attacks requiring emergency intervention.

Focusing solely on children and adults with mild to moderate asthma, the researchers were sure to note that "further trials focusing on children and people who experience frequent severe asthma attacks are needed before definitive clinical recommendations can be made." Lead author of the study Adrian R. Martineau, a professor of respiratory infection at Queen Mary University of London, told The New York Times: "We don’t yet have the evidence to say that everyone should take it." Overall, though, the researchers believe that the conclusions drawn are solid, strong, and "of high quality."

David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Models demonstrate the difference between a healthy airway and one that is inflamed by asthma at the Venice Family Clinic on June 6, 2007 in the Los Angeles, California community of Venice. With a quiet demeanor, Jesus is typical of a large number of teens who become withdrawn and suffer from depression as difficulty breathing isolates them from the physical activities of their peers. Because a federally-mandated ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) calls for all asthma patients who use albuterol inhalers to switch to an environmentally-friendly inhaler by December 31, 2008, more than 100 community health centers and clinics in California are offering free asthma inhalers to their uninsured and underserved low-income asthma patients through the 2007 ASPIRE Campaign. The ASPIRE Campaign is a partnership between The Children?s Health Fund, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Free Clinics and Direct Relief International. Poor air quality has been blamed for much of the recent rise in childhood asthma cases in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

In discussing why vitamin D is so game-changing, The New York Times notes that the effectiveness of vitamin D in reducing asthma attacks may be due to its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory in users. This, in conjunction with vitamin D's antiviral properties could improve lung health in asthma sufferers; vitamin D can therefore "decrease the risk for lung infection." The researchers didn't delve into whether natural vitamin D, either by exposure to sunlight or through eating nutrient-rich foods, plays a part in asthma attacks at all.

If you or your child suffers from asthma, this is definitely a helpful development to hear. Vitamin D supplements are relatively inexpensive and are without a doubt cheaper than, say, an impromptu visit to the emergency room—not to mention a whole lot less scary. As per the researchers' final thoughts, its not yet safe to say whether or not doctors can start prescribing high doses of the vitamin as a preventative measure. Ensuring that you or your child receive an adequate daily values of vitamin D, however, definitely can't hurt.