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Childhood Asthma

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Vitamin D and Asthma: Can it Help Treat the Symptoms?

By Dr. Kristie

Childhood asthma can be a frustrating problem for both parents and children. Identifying triggers which cause asthma flare-ups in a child can take a great deal of detective work. Some common environmental factors which can promote an asthma attack in children are exposure to

  • household chemicals
  • scented personal care products
  • animal hair
  • mold
  • foods
  • outdoor pollen, and more

In addition, viral infections, exposure to cold, and exercise can also trigger asthmatic bronchospasms. Interestingly, a recent study suggests there may be a connection between vitamin D and asthma and that a deficiency in this important vitamin could play a role in triggering asthma attacks.

Children with asthmatic symptoms are often treated with inhaled corticosteroid medications. These inhaled medications help to reduce airway inflammation which can bring on the bronchospasms associated with asthma.

In a recent study which looked at the safety and effectiveness of two inhaled corticosteroid medications, the researchers noted that children who had inadequate levels of a circulating form of vitamin D were more likely to experience asthmatic symptoms.

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In fact, the children who had insufficient vitamin D levels were seventy percent more likely to experience an asthma exacerbation compared to children with normal levels of this vitamin.

While these study results are too preliminary to recommend vitamin D supplements in children with asthma, the association between vitamin D and asthma does warrant further investigation. It’s not surprising that such an association might exist since vitamin D receptors are found on lung cells.

The researchers believe that circulating vitamin D may directly interact with the receptors found on lung cells promoting subtle changes in the structure of the airways which might bring on asthma symptoms.

Disturbingly, vitamin D deficiency is thought to be quite common in children and teenagers with up to twenty five percent having insufficient levels of this important vitamin. Vitamin D plays a critical role in growth and development of bones, making it important that children get sufficient levels of it even if they’re not prone to asthma.

To get adequate levels of vitamin D, children need to be exposed to at least ten minutes of sunlight a day. This may be a problem during the winter months particularly in areas where direct sunlight is less intense, and the body is covered.

Vitamin D is also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified milk making consumption of these foods particularly important in children diagnosed with asthma.


Until further research documents the possible connection between vitamin D and asthma, parents should be sure asthmatic children are getting sufficient dietary vitamin D on a daily basis from fortified milk and fish.

This should be enhanced with daily exposure to sunlight on uncovered skin. If the connection between vitamin D and asthma is supported by further studies, there may be a role for supplementation with vitamin D in certain asthmatic children. 

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and master's in clinical Pathology.

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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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