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Vitamin D boosts asthma drugs

Wednesday October 4th, 2017

Vitamin D supplements could boost the protective effect of standard asthma medication, researchers say today.

Professor Adrian Martineau and colleagues at Queen Mary University of London, UK, analysed the figures on 955 participants who took part in seven randomised controlled trials on the use of vitamin D supplements.

This analysis indicated that vitamin D supplementation were linked to a 30% drop in asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections. The rate fell from 0.43 events per person per year to 0.30, they report in today's (4 October) Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Supplementation also led to a 50% fall in the risk of at least one asthma attack requiring A&E treatment - from 6% of people experiencing such an event to 3%. It was deemed safe and there were no cases of excessively high calcium levels or renal stones versus placebo.

The team believe that vitamin D boosts the immune response to respiratory viruses that can trigger asthma attacks, and dampens down airway inflammation.

They found that vitamin D was especially protective for in participants who had low initial vitamin D levels. This group had a 55% drop in asthma exacerbations needing treatment, from 0.42 events per person per year to 0.19.

"These results add to the ever-growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health," said Professor Martineau. "On average, three people in the UK die from asthma attacks every day. Vitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive so supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem."

However, the team adds that the results are largely based on adults with mild to moderate asthma, so the findings cannot necessarily be generalised to children and adults with severe asthma.

Jolliffe, D. A. et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine 4 October 2017 [abstract]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Diet & Food | UK News

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