Written by Dr Tuck-kay Loke for Doctify
Most of us know that vitamins are good for your health. However, recent evidence has suggested that supplementation of Vitamin D may, in fact, help patients who are regularly using corticosteroid therapy for their asthma1. A number of clinical trials have tested whether taking Vitamin D as a supplement has an effect on lung function and asthma exacerbations.
Royal Tunbridge Wells based Consultant Respiratory Physician, Dr Tuck-Kay Loke discusses the research and what it could mean for you.
Researchers from the MRC Asthma UK Centre at Kings College Hospital have previously found that for some patients with severe asthma, Vitamin D3 could substantially improve the responsiveness of these patients to steroid treatment, offering them hope of an improvement in their condition2. The team’s results imply that steroid treatment works, at least in part, by inducing the T-cells of the immune system to synthesise a secreted signalling molecule, called IL-10 This molecule can inhibit the immune responses that cause the symptoms of an allergic and asthmatic disease.
Unlike T-cells from healthy individuals or patients that respond to steroids, T-cells taken from patients who are steroid-resistance do not produce IL-10 when cultured in vitro with the steroid, Dexamethasone. However, when vitamin D3 was added to the culture medium along with Dexamethasone, this defect was reversed and the previously steroid-resistance cells were able to respond to the treatment by producing IL-10 to the same extent as T-cells taken from the steroid-responsive patients. Adding vitamin D3 to cultures of T-cells from healthy individuals or from steroid-responsive patients made these cells even more responsive to steroids than before.
The research evidence suggests that testing for Vitamin D deficiency in those who suffer from asthma attacks and treating it where is found are likely to have a significant benefit in terms of reducing the risk of colds and flu that exacerbate asthma. With this in mind, asthma remains a common and serious lung condition, resulting in 60,000 hospital admission per year alone. Asthma UK 3 estimates that at least 3 people die from asthma every day in the United Kingdom. Many of these deaths are thought to be preventable, and significant numbers are thought not to be on appropriate medical therapy.
Whilst Vitamin D may not be the cure for asthma, certainly, an accurate diagnosis and appropriate inhaler therapy will help you manage your condition and avoid the risk of a severe asthma attack.
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