More than 20 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. Furthermore, 9 million American children suffer from the problem, making it the most prevalent chronic condition in children. But research into this breathing difficulty reveals that help is as close as the nearest sunlight. The vitamin D that your skin makes from the sun can improve the control of asthma.
Treating A Widespread Illness
The most often prescribed asthma medications range from short-acting beta agonists (such as albuterol) to inhaled corticosteroids (such as Asmanex and Qvar) to leukotriene modifiers (such as Singulair and Zyflo) to combination inhalers containing corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists (such as Advair and Symbicort).
As is the case with most drugs, asthma medications come with attendant side effects. Some side effects brought about by asthma drugs are localized and appear in only one part of the body. These include reflex cough, bronchospasm, oral candidiasis or thrush, and dysphonia (hoarseness). Others are systemic and the effects are seen throughout the body. These include decreased bone density, poor growth, cataracts and glaucoma, adrenal gland suppression, Disseminated Varicella Infection (chicken pox that spreads to organs), and easy bruising.
One of the best ways to help asthma, however, does not involve the use of drugs. Severe asthma attacks have been closely linked to insufficient levels of vitamin D. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology confirms that vitamin D insufficiency is linked to a 50 percent increase in the risk of severe asthma attacks.
Vitamin D And How It Helps Asthma
When you get enough vitamin D, your asthma attacks may be significantly minimized or completely disappear. The ideal source of vitamin D is sunlight. Therefore, the asthma solution is as close as the great outdoors, is free and comes with no side effects (except if you stay in the sun too long and burn).
For those who live in regions that don’t get a lot of sunshine, or those who don’t have time to receive the sun exposure necessary to soak up sufficient levels of vitamin D, taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement is advisable.
How much vitamin D is necessary to achieve therapeutic effects, particularly in asthma cases? If you believe the recommendations of U.S. health agencies, you’d think that 200 to 600 IUs of vitamin D per day are sufficient. Unfortunately, the healthy vitamin D ranges recommended by these agencies are based on flawed and outdated guidelines, and are considered by most enlightened health practitioners to be grossly deficient.
Many health experts believe that the average person needs about 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight daily. Therefore, someone weighing 150 pounds needs 5,250 IUs, and a child weighing 60 pounds needs 2,100 IUs. Although this might seem like a lot 1,000 IUs is only 25 micrograms or 0.025 milligrams. In some cases where severe vitamin D deficiency exists, the recommendations are even higher.
There are two types of vitamin D supplements, namely: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which comes from eggs, organ meats, animal fat, cod liver oil and fish. Natural vitamin D3, which is equivalent to the vitamin D3 produced on your skin from UV-B rays of the sun, is the type most often recommended for therapeutic reasons because it is far superior to synthetic vitamin D2, which has been shown to be toxic at higher doses.