post-title Asthma and Allergies: Increasingly Common Diseases 2013-02-26 14:32:44 yes no Posted by

Asthma and Allergies: Increasingly Common Diseases

By Deborah Ortega-Carr, M.D. Asthma and Allergies are increasingly common diseases especially in industrialized countries. Countries transitioning to a more western lifetyle and urbanized lifestyle also show increases in asthma and allergic diseases. Many potential reasons could account for this pattern, especially nutritional changes. Vitamin D deficiency has documented in many populations worldwide and has occurred despite the fortification of […]

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DeborahOrtegaCarr-300x267By Deborah Ortega-Carr, M.D.

Asthma and Allergies are increasingly common diseases especially in industrialized countries. Countries transitioning to a more western lifetyle and urbanized lifestyle also show increases in asthma and allergic diseases. Many potential reasons could account for this pattern, especially nutritional changes. Vitamin D deficiency has documented in many populations worldwide and has occurred despite the fortification of foods in some countries. Research has also suggested that human sun avoidance behaviors have led to the Vitamin D deficiency states. A study from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey NHANES) found that over a 10 year span, levels fell in all age ranges and in all ethnic and racial groups., suggesting a society-wide change. In general as people spend more and more of there waking hours indoors, they get less and less exposure to there main source of Vitamin D, sunlight. Sunlight is much more significant as a source than most dietary sources or supplementation.

How Vitamin D deficiency leads to asthma or allergic disease is less clear. Vitamin D is certainly important in the immune function and in the health of the respiratory epithelium (lining of the nose throat and lungs). It also help regulate the bodies defense against bacterial antigens. With all these important activities, it makes sense to consider supplementing Vitamin D in deficient patients with many of these illnesses.

Researchers have recently begun looking the effects of Vitamin supplementation on asthma and allergic disease but the results are mixed. Some studies have shown benefits of high Vitamin D intake on asthma development and severity but others have shown no benefit. One small study has shown a beneficial effect of Vitamin D supplementation on asthma exacerbations with respiratory infections.

More studies are needed to show real benefit of Vitamin D supplementation in asthma or allergic patients or in young children as means of prevention. One thing is clear however. Sunlight exposure for as little as 30 minutes can offer much more effective Vitamin D than supplementation with most daily supplements. The difficult task for most of us is finding that 30 minutes of daylight.

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