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The importance of vitamin D to human health has been well established in studies noting its impact on such diverse conditions as infertility, depression, cardiac disease, and metabolic syndrome. One mechanism at work in vitamin D is its immunomodulatory action that regulates the immune response and calms inflammation. Asthma, which is commonly caused by excessive immune responses to environmental antigens, seems like a perfect testing ground to measure the efficacy of vitamin D in treating inflammation. A study published in the journal Asia Pacific Allergy has taken the first step toward that kind of trial by measuring the extent to which children with asthma are deficient in this vital nutrient.
To discover the relationship between vitamin D and childhood asthma, researchers recruited 70 Saudi boys and girls (age range 4-18 y) from the King Abdul Aziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for an 11-month study. Of the participants, 45 were children who had been diagnosed with asthma and the remaining 25 comprised the control group.
The research team divided the participants into 4 groups based on how well their asthma was controlled as determined by an asthma control test. The first group had 15 children whose asthma was controlled well; the second group contained 15 children whose asthma was partly controlled; the third group was comprised of 15 children whose asthma was uncontrolled; and the final group consisted of 25 nonasthmatic children. All participants (some with help from parents/guardians) completed an interviewer-administered medical history questionnaire and contributed blood samples to be measured for vitamin D level, bone profile, cytokines profile, and atopy markers. Each participant underwent a pulmonary function test as well.
There were no significant differences between the asthmatic participants and the healthy controls in age, gender distribution, or body mass index. Yet, the asthmatic children were found to be overwhelmingly deficient in vitamin D, with the uncontrolled asthmatics measuring lowest in vitamin D sufficiency. Unsurprisingly, the less controlled the asthma, the more likely the child was to have higher levels of cytokines and atopy markers.
This study demonstrates that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in asthmatic children, even in a country like Saudi Arabia with more than sufficient sunlight. While this study does not indicate whether asthma causes the vitamin D deficiency or is the result of the deficiency, the strength of the association deserves attention. At the very least, this study underscores the importance of measuring serum vitamin D in asthmatic children.*
Aldubi HM, Alissa EM, Kamfar HZ, Gaber O, Marzouki ZM. Bronchial asthma and hypovitaminosis D in Saudi children. Asia Pac Allergy. 2015;5(2):103-113.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.