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Vitamin D can Improve Breathing for Asthmatic People

Update Date: Oct 30, 2014 11:15 AM EDT

Taking strolls outside during the daytime can be beneficial for people suffering from asthma, a new study reported. Researchers found that vitamin D sourced from the sun can help manage acute asthmatic episodes.

"Vitamin D has significant immunomodulatory effects and, as such, was believed to have an effect on asthma -- an immunologically mediated disease," said Dr. Ronit Confino-Cohen of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Meir Medical Center, and the Clalit Research Institute. "But most of the existing data regarding Vitamin D and asthma came from the pediatric population and was inconsistent. Our present study is unique because the study population of young adults is very large and 'uncontaminated' by other diseases."

For this study, Dr. Confino-Cohen worked with Dr. Becca Feldman of the Clalit Research Institute and colleagues to analyze the medical records of about four million people who were a part of the Clalit Health Services, which is the largest health care provider in Israel. From 2008 to 2012, 307,900 people had their vitamin D levels measured. Overall, about 21,000 people with asthma between the ages of 22 and 50 were studied.

After taking into account other contributing factors of asthma, such as obesity, smoking and chronic illness, the researchers found that asthmatic people with a vitamin D deficiency were 25 percent more likely than asthmatic people with normal vitamin D levels to experience at least one flare-up within the recent past. Asthmatic people with low vitamin D levels were also more likely to suffer from an asthmatic attack.

"Our results add more evidence to the link between Vitamin D and asthma, suggesting beneficial effects of Vitamin D on asthma exacerbations," said Dr. Confino-Cohen according to the press release. "We expect that further prospective studies will support our results. In the meantime, our results support a recommendation for screening of Vitamin D levels in the subgroup of asthma patients who experience recurrent exacerbations. In those with Vitamin D deficiency, supplementation may be necessary."

The study, "Vitamin D, asthma prevalence and asthma exacerbations: a large adult population-based study," was published in the journal, Allergy.

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