Another interesting piece of research showed the effect of vitamin D deficiency in STRA children. These children have severe therapy-resistant asthma and form 5 to 10% of the childhood asthma population. A study performed with STRA children found that they had a lower vitamin D level in their blood than children who were responding to therapy. In addition, the muscles surrounding the airways in the non-responsive children showed structural changes, including an increase in mass. The vitamin D deficiency may have been responsible for the muscle changes, although more research is needed to confirm this.
|An inhaled corticosteroid: photo by author|
People with asthma have some degree of inflammation in their airways even when they’re not having an asthma attack. Taking inhaled corticosteroids reduces and controls this inflammation, and vitamin D may enhance the effect of the corticosteroids.
Our bodies make vitamin D when ultraviolet radiation from sunlight hits our skin. However, this same radiation can cause sunburns, skin aging and skin cancer. Health experts tell us we should all be wearing protective sunscreen when we go outside. The sunscreen interferes with vitamin D manufacture, however, so for many of use the regular use of a vitamin D supplement is necessary. This is especially important for people who live in areas with short summers or who cover their skin for religious reasons. It’s also important for people who have dark skin, which contain lots of melanin, the pigment that blocks some - but not all - of the light hitting the skin.
For people who have asthma or another inflammatory condition it’s worth taking a vitamin D supplement (in the locally recommended dose) to see if this helps the condition. There are blood tests that can determine whether the level of vitamin D in the blood is acceptable.