(Health Secrets) Vitamin D deficiency is linked to poor lung function and high use of steroid medication in children with asthma, according to a U.S. based study. Taking a Vitamin D supplement may help to improve lung function, and make steroid medication more effective, meaning a lower dose can be used.
What does the study show?
The study was undertaken at National Jewish Health in Denver, and was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It used the medical records of one hundred asthmatic children, and found that 64% of these were deficient in Vitamin D. Three main trends were discovered in this group:
- Higher allergy levels. The children who had low levels of Vitamin D were seen to be more allergic, and were more likely to test positive in an allergy skin prick test, a test for dog allergy, and a test for house dust mite allergy.
- Reduced lung function. Asthma severity was also seen to be worse in children with Vitamin D deficiency, with lung function being significantly lower in this group than in the group with normal Vitamin D levels.
- More medication. Finally, the 64% who were deficient in Vitamin D were seen to require higher doses of medication, such as inhaled steroids, oral steroids, and long acting beta antagonists.
Dr. Daniel Searing, who led the study, stated that “Asthmatic children in our study who had low levels of vitamin D were more allergic, had poorer lung function and used more medications.”
There were two possible conclusions to the study. First, Vitamin D deficiency is a direct cause of poor lung function in asthmatics; or secondly, Vitamin D deficiency limits the effectiveness of steroid medication, meaning that higher doses are required.
In either case, Vitamin D supplements should reduce the need for steroid medication, meaning that smaller doses can be given.
What are the side effects of steroid based asthma drugs?
Although inhaled steroids are thought to be relatively safe, taking oral steroids, which is often necessary during a period of decreased lung function, can be very harmful.
Short term use of oral steroids can lead to:
- Digestion problems
- Fluid retention
- Sleeping problems
- Blurred vision
- Short temper
- Lack of concentration
- Irregular periods
- Yeast infections
Very rarely steroid use can lead to psychosis, diabetes, or a severe injury of the bone in a joint. When a course of steroids is stopped, stiffness or aching in the joints may be experienced, along with a lack of energy and appetite. You may also feel overly emotional.
Long term use of oral steroids can lead to:
- Cataracts of the eyes
- Myopathy (muscle weakness)
- Fragile, easily bruised skin
- Hair loss in men or facial hair growth in women
- Development of high blood pressure and diabetes
- Shrinking of the adrenal glands
If inhaled steroid use can be reduced by boosting levels of Vitamin D, and perhaps the need for oral steroids removed altogether, these unpleasant symptoms could be avoided.
A single drop of Active D each day
Vitamin D is essential for everybody, not just asthmatics. The majority of Vitamin D in our bodies is generated by exposure to the sun, but modern day lifestyles and worries about skin cancer mean that many Americans just don’t get enough Vitamin D.
Active D drops contains liquid Vitamin D along with medium chain triglycerides which ensure optimal uptake and absorption. One drop a day can provide all the Vitamin D you need, even if you don’t get any sun exposure.
Asthma is not the only condition linked to Vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of Vitamin D have also been associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
Photo by Raphael Goetter
Photo by emerille