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Fight asthma with vitamin D

| April 11, 2010 9:00 PM

The sunshine vitamin also promotes healthy weight loss. More than 16 million adults and 7 million kids in this country have asthma, an inflammatory disease that constricts airways in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Allergies, air pollution and respiratory infections are only a few common asthma triggers.

The sunshine vitamin also promotes healthy weight loss.

More than 16 million adults and 7 million kids in this country have asthma, an inflammatory disease that constricts airways in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Allergies, air pollution and respiratory infections are only a few common asthma triggers.

Now, new research at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston links low levels of vitamin D with asthma. And a study presented at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology shows that almost half of asthmatic children are low in the sunshine vitamin.

If anyone has insufficient levels of this critical vitamin, "we need to correct it," says James Gern, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In his research, levels below 30 nanograms/milliliter in a simple blood test are considered vitamin D insufficiency.

Dr. Ann Louise's take:

We're only beginning to scratch the surface on our need for vitamin D.

A new study in Nature Immunology also shows that - without D - the body's immune soldiers - T cells - can't fight infections. "What we didn't realize is how crucial vitamin D is for actually activating the immune system," says Professor Carsten Geisler, in the department of international health, immunology and microbiology at the University of Copenhagen.

A randomized trial of children with a history of asthma finds most are low in vitamin D, leading to higher incidence of influenza A, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports.

While asthma can't be cured, it can be controlled. Learn to identify your own specific asthma triggers - and, as much as possible, clean up the air you breathe.

At home, I use the Bio-Net Air Purifier (Uni Key Health, 800-888-4353) - the highest quality air filtration system. Also be sure to clean all filters - on air filtration devices as well as heating and cooling equipment - at least once a month.

Other benefits of D

There are a multitude of reasons to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D! In addition to protecting against asthma, the sunshine vitamin contributes to bone health while fighting cancer and MS.

Recent research at the University of Minnesota even finds that overweight individuals are better able to shed pounds when they get more vitamin D. For each nanogram/milliliter increase in this vitamin, dieters lost an extra half-pound of body weight.

Measuring D levels in children, investigators find that kids low in this vitamin have higher belly fat and body-mass index (BMI), and skinfold thickness than those with adequate vitamin D levels.

How much D?

By some estimates, 85 percent of Americans are D deficient, particularly seniors who have trouble transforming sunlight into this vitamin. Also a number of pharmaceutical drugs - antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering meds, corticosteroids and ulcer meds - deplete vitamin D in the body.

Only a few foods - egg yolks, sardines - are even decent sources of this vitamin. And many experts - myself included - find the current recommendations for daily intake remain much too low. I recommend 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

That's why I've upped the amounts of D3 in both the Female Multiple and Male Multiple to add more of the sunshine vitamin to what you consume in a healthy diet. Most recent studies show the effectiveness of D3 (cholecalciferol), so that's the form used in these multis.

Sources:

• www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm

• http://ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=23742

• www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962

• www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20216565

• www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20080911

• www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20075384

• www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20161622

Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman is the award-winning author of more than 30 books on health and nutrition and guest on many TV and radio programs. She resides in Kootenai County. Info: annlouise.com

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