Catching some rays outside could be a simple solution to managing acute asthmatic episodes, according to a new study at Tel Aviv University.
While previous studies cast a shadow of doubt over Vitamin D's influence on asthma, lead author Dr. Ronit Confino-Cohen says the sunshine's nutrient could regulate immune responses, hindering asthma's control over the immune system.
"Most of the existing data regarding Vitamin D and asthma came from the pediatric population and was inconsistent," says Dr. Confino-Cohen. "Our present study is unique because the study population of young adults is very large and 'uncontaminated' by other diseases."
The large-scale study worked with physician data from the records of 307,900 people whose Vitamin D levels were measured between 2008 and 2012.
Dr. Confino-Cohen and his team took into account key predictors of asthma, such as obesity, smoking and other chronic diseases, that could affect the outcome.
Of the 21,000 asthma patients studied, a deficiency in Vitamin D meant they were 25 percent more likely than other asthmatics to have had a recent asthma attack.
The association between Vitamin D deficiency and increasing asthma attacks has long been established, although a recent study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis found that the addition of vitamin D3 to the inhaled corticosteroid ciclesonide did not improve the outcome of treatment.
Dr. Confino-Cohen recommends that asthma patients get their vitamin D levels taken and, in the case of a deficiency, says supplements may make sense.
Vitamin D is also delivered to the body through sunshine, by eating fish, eggs, cod liver oil and by drinking fortified milk.
Dr. Confino-Cohen's study was published in the journal Allergy.