Vitamin D is produced within the body when the skin is exposed to UVB rays, as well as being found in some foods but in minimal amounts.
Once it has been produced within the body it travels to the liver where it is processed and then will travel to other areas of the body such as the kidneys.
The relationship between vitamin D levels within the body and asthma symptoms is one which is proving a interesting topic, but elusive. Because there are many different pathways by which vitamin D acts, determining which one is the causative link with asthma symptoms becomes hard.
As a practitioner, the main thing that I want to know is that there is a correlation between the 2, so making sure that vitamin D levels are optimal in patients suffering from the chronic condition is a vital first step in reducing symptoms and making asthma easier to manage.
How does vitamin D influence asthma?
Lets first chat a little bit about asthma itself. It is defined as a chronic, inflammatory condition of the lungs, with a hyper-stimulation of the airways leading to restricted breathing, increased mucous production and reduced oxygenation of the cells of the body because of this.
Vitamin D has been shown to reduce inflammatory mediators within the body, meaning that bronchial (lung) tissue becomes less reactive. As well as balancing the bodies immune response, reducing the allergy component to asthma.
We know that the presence of asthma represents an imbalance within the immune system, and Vitamin D has been shown to bring rebalance the immune cells within the body, allowing it to better react to the environment, rather than overreact.
For asthma sufferers the normal preventative medication is steroid based. Giving the lung tissue a consistent anti-inflammatory action to keep asthma symptoms under control.
Vitamin D status has also been shown to influence the effectiveness of this medication. Increasing vitamin D levels have been shown to increase the sensitivity to the steroid therapy, so theoretically the dose of steroid preventer medication can be reduced whilst still having the same effect.
Do you have enough Vitamin D?
Getting tested is a great first step. But on top of that ensuring that we are getting adequate exposure to sunlight (without getting burnt) and if needed, supplementation.
Exposing stomach or arms is the best way to get optimal vitamin D production happening, and ensuring that it in the middle of the day will help to boost your vitamin D status.