Lack of vitamin D linked to severe asthma attacks in children

June 24, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Lack of vitamin D linked to severe asthma attacks in children
A new study from researchers at Harvard reports that asthmatic children with relatively low vitamin D levels in their blood may have a greater risk of suffering severe asthma attacks than those with higher levels of the vitamin.

The study followed more than 1,000 children with asthma for four years. Using blood samples taken at the start of the trial, researchers found that 35 percent of the children had vitamin D insufficiency, and 65 percent had sufficient levels.

Researchers found those with the lowest levels of the vitamin at the outset of the study were more likely to have an asthma attack that required a trip to the hospital.

Over the four-year study, 38 percent of children with insufficient vitamin D levels went to the emergency room or were hospitalized for an asthma exacerbation. The same was true of 32 percent of children with sufficient levels of the vitamin.

When the researchers considered other factors, including the severity of the children's asthma at the outset of the study, their weight and their family income, low levels of vitamin D was linked to a 50 percent increase in the risk of severe asthma attacks.

While the study suggests an association between vitamin D status and asthma, it does not prove that taking the vitamin will prevent asthma attacks.  The study was published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Chances are most Canadians will get a boost to their vitamin D levels over the coming months with more time spent outdoors, since the vitamin is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight.  However, our cold, dark winters mean many Canadians are at risk of deficiency for most of the year.  In fact, Stats Can reports that 2 out of 3 Canadians have less of the nutrient than the latest research suggests is necessary for proper health.

Pick up Leslie Beck's new book The Complete A-Z Nutrition Encyclopedia to learn more about vitamin D requirements and the best food and supplement sources to meet your needs.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.