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Taking vitamin D could halve the risk of asthma attacks

A review of randomised trials suggests that taking an oral vitamin D supplement as well as standard asthma medication will reduce severe asthma attacks.
Vitamin D

A review of randomised trials suggests that taking an oral vitamin D supplement as well as standard asthma medication will reduce severe asthma attacks.

Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide, with low blood levels of vitamin D linked to enhanced risk of attack. The potential role of vitamin D in asthma management has intrigued researchers as it may reduce upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold, which can exacerbate the condition.

Cochrane Library researchers found that giving a daily oral vitamin D supplement to people with mild to moderate asthma meaning symptoms at least twice a week reduced the risk of severe attacks requiring hospital admission or emergency department attendance from 6% to around 3%.

They analysed seven trials involving 435 children, and 2 studies involving 658 adults, all of

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A review of randomised trials suggests that taking an oral vitamin D supplement as well as standard asthma medication will reduce severe asthma attacks. 

Vitamin D
Vitamin D linked to reducing asthma attacks. Photo: Alamy

Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide, with low blood levels of vitamin D linked to enhanced risk of attack. The potential role of vitamin D in asthma management has intrigued researchers as it may reduce upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold, which can exacerbate the condition.

Cochrane Library researchers found that giving a daily oral vitamin D supplement to people with mild to moderate asthma – meaning symptoms at least twice a week – reduced the risk of severe attacks requiring hospital admission or emergency department attendance from 6% to around 3%.  

They analysed seven trials involving 435 children, and 2 studies involving 658 adults, all of which lasted for between 6 and 12 months. Participants in the analysed studies were ethnically diverse, coming from Canada, India, Japan, Poland, the UK and the United States. Most continued to take their usual asthma medication while taking part in the trials.

The researchers also discovered vitamin D supplements reduced the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroids. 

Lead author Professor Adrian Martineau from the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research at Queen Mary, University of London, said: ‘We found taking a vitamin D supplement in addition to standard asthma treatment significantly reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks, without causing side effects.

‘This is an exciting result, but some caution is warranted as the findings relating to severe asthma attacks come from just three trials. Most of the patients enrolled in these studies were adults with mild or moderate asthma.’


Martineau AR et al (2016) Vitamin D for the management of asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011511.pub2

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