Vitamin D helps cut risks of severe asthma attacks

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Research review suggests vitamin D supplements reduce asthma hospital visits by 50%

TORONTO, Ont (September 20, 2016) – The Vitamin D Society is encouraged by a new research review that suggests the use of oral vitamin D supplements can help curb severe asthma attacks.

The independent review, carried out by scientists with the Cochrane research body and published in the Cochrane Library, examined results from seven studies including 435 children and two trials involving 658 adults. The majority of participants had mild to moderate asthma and a minority had severe asthma.

Cochrane researchers found individuals who take oral vitamin D supplements in addition to their standard asthma medication experience a significant reduction — approximately 50 percent — in severe asthma attacks and hospital visits, without any added side effects.

“These results are really exciting and promising for thousands of asthma patients across Canada, where we have significant incidence of vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Gerry Schwalfenberg, a scientific advisor to the Vitamin D Society and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Alberta. “Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of attacks for those who live with asthma.”

The review found vitamin D reduced the risks of hospitalization with acute asthma attacks from six per 100 to approximately three per 100. At the same time, individuals given vitamin D experienced fewer asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroid. The average number of attacks per person per year went down to .22 from .44 when taking vitamin D.

While researchers concluded vitamin D is “likely” to protect against severe asthma attacks, they are unclear whether these effects are confined to individuals with lower baseline levels of vitamin D. As a result, they call for further study — particularly involving patients who experience frequent severe asthma attacks — before definitive recommendations can be made.

Vitamin D is crucial for promoting bone and muscle health, in addition to lowering the risk of developing serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.

The Vitamin D Society urges Canadians to have their vitamin D levels checked by their physicians through a simple blood test to ensure they aren’t deficient. Get your test score and compare to the level scientists recommend.

Because of our northern latitude, our sunshine is only able to produce vitamin D for about half the year. From November to May, many Canadians will not have the vitamin D they require for optimal health. Approximately 12 million Canadians do not meet minimum vitamin D blood level requirements of 50 nmol/L set by Health Canada and the Institute of Medicine. This figure rises to 14 million — 40% of us — during winter months.

“Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D through safe exposure to the sun in summer or using vitamin D supplements or artificial UVB in winter is a simple way to improve your health and cut the risks of some very serious illnesses with minimal cost,” said Dr. Schwalfenberg.

About the Vitamin D Society:

The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D blood levels between 100 – 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA).

To learn more about vitamin D, please visit


For more information, please contact:

Mike Kwiatkowski, Enterprise Canada 905-346-1235