Vitamin D May Help Treat Asthma

Researchers in London have identified a mechanism through which vitamin D can significantly reduce the symptoms of asthma and suggest it may offer a new way to treat the debilitating condition, which in the UK alone affects around 5.4 million people and costs the NHS around £1 billion a year.

Catherine Hawrylowicz of King’s College London, and colleagues, write about their discovery in a paper published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology this month.

Asthma is a long-term condition where the airways narrow from becoming inflamed and swollen, making it hard to breathe.

Currently patients with severe asthma take steroid tablets, which can have harmful side effects.

But some patients have a type of asthma that is resistant to steroids making it almost impossible to treat, so their asthma attacks are often severe and sometimes even life-threatening, leading to repeated hospital admission.

In their paper, Hawrylowicz and colleagues describe how they found a way that vitamin D may be able to reduce the symptoms of asthma.

It concerns the activity of a natural compound called interleukin-17A (IL-17A) which is part of the immune system. IL-17A protects the body against infection but is also known to worsen asthma symptoms and, in large amounts, to decrease the impact of steroids.

For the study, the team examined three groups of people: 18 patients with steroid-resistant asthma, 10 patients with asthma that responded to treatment with steroids, and 10 healthy people without asthma (the controls).

IL-17A is produced by a group of immune cells called TH17 (T helper 17 cells). The researchers examined these cells in each group of patients and looked at how they produced IL-17A and the amounts.

They found that compared to cells from the healthy controls without asthma, cells from both of the asthma groups had higher levels of IL-17A, with the steroid-resistant group showing the highest levels.

And, they found vitamin D significantly lowered production of IL-17A in cells from all three groups, including the two groups with asthma. Steroids, on the other hand, had little effect on IL-17A production in the cells from patients with asthma.

The team concludes that vitamin D inhibited IL-17A production in all the patients they studied, “irrespective of their clinical responsiveness to steroids”, and these results thus identify “novel steroid-enhancing properties of vitamin D in asthmatic patients”.

The findings therefore suggest vitamin D could be a safe and useful add-on treatment.

If vitamin D proves successful in trials, and is shown to reduce the amount of steroids required, it could have enormous impact on the quality of life of asthma sufferers.

As Hawrylowicz explains in a statement:

“These findings are very exciting as they show that vitamin D could one day be used not only to treat people with steroid resistant asthma but also to reduce the doses of steroids in other asthma patients, reducing the risk of harmful side effects.”

She says the findings were “so positive” that they are already starting a clinical trial in steroid resistant asthma patients to find out more about using vitamin D as a treatment for asthma.

Asthma UK helped fund the study, and the research team is part of the King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.

In another study published recently in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers from Johns Hopkins in the US report that very high blood levels of vitamin D confer no additional benefit, and warn that raising levels of vitamin D in “healthy people” whose levels are normal could do more harm than good.

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One thought on “Vitamin D May Help Treat Asthma

  1. yea I have a theory about that, sorta, having taken vitad3 in mega doses for several months, now currently not since I get plenty of sun and do not wash the oils off right away, or I don’t use sunscreen, I can attest to the wonders of vitad3 (aka very close to cholesterol sulfate)this substance helps you to become glucose tolerant (along with using gtf which works better after you correct the other defieincey of vitad3)helps with hypo symptoms and metabolic syndrome galore (even lowers blood pressure which is probably why I get lightheaded and dizzy alot now) since I am on bp meds, but hopfully to get off it here soon, I too suffered asthma, but not the kind I will drop dead of oxygen deprivation any minute attacks just enough to cause me distress and feel out of breath, I found that my attacks were mild comparativily and did not happen all the time when I exercised, or when exposed to the outdoors in summer, but since taking this regimen for 3 and a half months (started off at 40,000 iu per day gradually working down to 5000 then quitting altogether)plus gtf, I noticed I seldom have a problem like I used to, I sleep through thenight without having to eat, I am more calm and can go longer periods without eating (translated, i don’t get headachy, as nervous, moody, or groucy and super hungry) I can stick to my lower carb diet now which before I could not and it doesn’t take as much food to feel satiated, especially carbs, like fruit, or whole grain bread and the like.oh yea forgot more energy and it is more sustainable, not the one or two days of it then a few days where I feel like doing nothing type scenario I usually went through. why does it help asthma? I think it has to do with the fact oxygen is very explosive (it oxidizes things you know like sugar and fats) and if your lungs sacs are not coated with something to counter that the last thing they want you to do is hyperventilate during a adrenalin surge (adrenalin is supposed to open them up wider so you can breath more oxygen to be able to run away from whatever is threatening you)but oxygen is damaging to unprotected tissues so they constrict trying to decrease this O2 thing, hence hte asthma, and of course they tend to become sensitive to allergens as well because of lacking their protective coating (called cholesterol sulfate and saturated fats) it works like that with insulin resistance, to overcome it they give you more insulin to basically force cells to accept something that they are unable to handle glucose which burns their insides hence their resistance to it, so they give you more adrenalin to overcome the adrenalin resistance, which may explain why steriods don’t work on some, their not suffering allergic asthma but just plain the sacs want to keep the oxygen from getting to high to avoid damage to their sensitive tissues. the asthma thing is just a theory Ihave, I am not a doctor or scientist with some kind of degree or something. just someone with thinking ability and a brain a wonderful gift from Jehovah.

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