RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Vitamin D has grabbed lots of headlines in the past several months for its potential in preventing cancer. This time, the vitamin’s in the news because new research out of Harvard suggests children with more severe asthma are vitamin D deficient. The study comes on the heels of a large analysis that found low levels of vitamins A and C in the diets of people with asthma.
THE DETAILS: Both a recent individual study and a meta-analysis of 40 studies made a link between vitamin deficiencies and asthma. In the analysis of previous research, published in the journal Thorax, researchers looked at dietary levels of vitamins A, C, and E. They found that getting lower levels of vitamins A and C in the diet was associated with an increased risk of developing asthma. In a separate study, Harvard researchers studied 616 children from Costa Rico and found that lower vitamin D levels correlated with more severe forms of asthma. That study, published in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that children with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have been hospitalized in the previous year, and needed more medicine to control the condition, than children with higher levels.
WHAT IT MEANS: While these findings are important, researchers say it’s too early to tell if vitamins can prevent or reverse asthma. In the meantime, you can take steps to make sure you and your children are getting enough vitamins and nutrients.
Here’s how to support your respiratory health:
• Eat a balanced diet. Eating foods rich in nutrients is important for everyone, kids and adults alike, and the recent research suggests getting enough vitamins could possibly play a role in lowering the risk of asthma. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, kale, spinach, and some fortified foods. Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits and 100 percent orange and grapefruit juices. Vitamin D harder to get from foods; fatty fish is a good source, and you can also find it in milk and fortified cereals. Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when sunlight hits your skin (for some northern locations, this only works during the warmer months, when the sun is strongest). A daily multivitamin will help keep levels of A and C where they should be. Many doctors say current vitamin D guidelines are dreadfully low, so you may want to consider taking a 1,000 IU vitamin D supplement, and letting the sun hit your arms for a few minutes before putting on sunblock. Talk to your pediatrician about appropriate supplements for your children.
• Clear the air. More than 30 percent of the U.S. population reports headaches, breathing trouble, and other health problems after being exposed to fragranced products. And the products we use to clean our homes and clothing can trigger respiratory problems. So opt for unscented soaps and detergents, and don’t use fragranced air fresheners. Instead of harsh cleaners, use a solution of white vinegar and water for general purpose cleaning. Spray on and let it dry for germ-killing power and a nice shine.
For more ideas, check out the remedy finder for natural cures
Published on: April 28, 2009
Updated on: August 1, 2011