One of the most common chronic illnesses among young adults is asthma. Adults (aged 18 to 45) throughout the world have a broad range of asthma prevalence rates, with Australia having the highest rates.1 According to Global Burden of Disease (GBD) research, asthma was responsible for 400,000 fatalities in 2015, with males experiencing higher rates than females.2
In Asthma and allergy illnesses, vitamins can have a few consequences. They regulate a maturing immune system, sculpt the character and variety of the human microbiome, and affect gene expression through interactions with the epigenome (chemical changes to the DNA).3 By controlling the immune system and dietary intake throughout the early years of life, food has a significant influence on a person's respiratory health when compared to other environmental factors, and it is essential for improving health outcomes.4
Food may both be an allergen that aggravates asthma symptoms and function as a preventative measure. Unpasteurized milk consumption, vitamin D supplementation, and high maternal omega-3 fatty acid intake all lower the chance of developing asthma, chronic wheezing, and other respiratory conditions in children.3
Connection between asthma and management
Proper vitamin intake is essential for maintaining our general health. Vitamin deficiencies can cause a few long-term health problems. Vitamins C and E, for example, have antioxidant properties that help shield our bodies from oxidative stress, which is more prevalent in situations like asthma and other inflammatory disorders. Because the body needs more of these antioxidant vitamins to combat oxidative stress or because it doesn't acquire enough of them from food, individuals with asthma may not have enough of them in their bodies. Patients with asthma frequently have reduced amounts of these vitamins as a result. It's unclear, though, whether asthma causes low vitamin levels or low vitamin levels are the cause of asthma.5
Importance of vitamins in asthma management
- Vitamins with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties include vitamins C, E, and D: These vitamins can reduce inflammation and protect against free radical damage. The causes and symptoms of asthma are largely influenced by inflammation and oxidative stress. Examining how these vitamins affect the reduction of inflammation and the elimination of dangerous free radicals from the airways may provide important new insights into how to treat asthma.
- Long-term pharmaceutical use may have negative effects on certain people, even though traditional asthma treatments are mostly safe and effective. Examining the use of vitamins as a supplementary strategy might lessen the need for high doses of medicine and possibly lessen the side effects associated with medication.
- Individualised Treatment Options: Asthma is a diverse disorder and different people may react differently to different therapies. More individualized and focused therapy approaches for asthma patients may result from an understanding of how particular vitamins may assist subgroups of asthma patients.
- Prevention and Disease Modification: Researching the association between vitamin consumption and the development of asthma may provide insight into the preventative potential of certain vitamins in at-risk groups, such as young children with a family history of asthma.5
Vitamins that are commonly used for asthma
Vitamin A and Carotenoids: Consuming foods high in carotenoids (pigments that produce yellow, red and orange) can lower the risk of developing asthma, as well as enhance lung health and asthma management. This is probably due to the antioxidant properties of carotenoids, which help shield the body and lungs from harm. Our bodies need retinoic acid (RA), a crucial type of vitamin A, for development, vision, reproduction, and a strong immune system. Carotenoids, a form of vitamin A, may be found in foods like carrots and green vegetables.5
Vitamin B groups: Some vitamins have been identified for their roles in the management of asthma. Examples include Vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B9. Good sources of Vitamin B are milk, eggs, fish, mushrooms, avocado, oats, broccoli, and cheese. These are also available as supplements.
Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid, another name for vitamin C, is a form of vitamin that dissolves in water. It aids in the body's ability to mend, produces collagen, which is crucial for healthy skin and joints, and supports a few enzymes. We can better absorb some elements like iron thanks to vitamin C. One benefit of vitamin C is that it functions as an antioxidant, preventing cellular deterioration and reducing inflammation. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods with vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of developing asthma, wheezing, and other breathing issues.
Vitamin D: Due to its ability to modulate immune cells such as mast cells, neutrophils, and eosinophils, vitamin D plays a crucial role in the management of asthmatic inflammation. The synthesis of anti-inflammatory molecules may rise while the release of inflammatory chemicals may decrease. Vitamin D comes in a variety of forms, but the two that are most important for human health are vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and D2 (ergocalciferol). One is more likely to acquire asthma and become allergic to things if they don't have enough vitamin D, a condition known as vitamin D deficiency. For managing asthma and promoting general health, it is crucial to consume adequate vitamin D.5 Good sources of Vitamin D are: red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.
Vitamin E: Some studies have reported that pregnant women who take vitamin E supplements help their unborn kid's lungs function and reduce the likelihood that the infant will have asthma or wheezing issues. On the other hand, a pregnant woman who is deficient in vitamin E may raise her child's chance of developing asthma and wheezing. Cooking oils derived from plants contain significant levels of vitamin E.5
Sources of vitamins for asthma:
- Egg yolks, fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), fortified milk, and sun exposure all contain vitamin D
- Oranges, strawberries, kiwis, and broccoli all contain vitamin C
- Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils contain vitamin E
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and liver all contain vitamin A
- Chickpeas, poultry, and bananas all contain vitamin B6
Note: A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any vitamin supplements to be sure they are appropriate for you and fulfill your unique needs.
Do vitamin supplements for asthma pose any risks?
Most vitamins are typically safe for people with asthma when taken in the recommended dosages. Vitamin A and vitamin E, when consumed in excess, might have negative consequences. Before beginning any new vitamin supplementation routine, it is crucial to stick to established daily intakes and seek medical advice.
Do vitamins help with asthma?
Vitamins are essential for maintaining respiratory health different studies have investigated how they could help with asthma symptoms. Inflammation and oxidative stress in the airways may be reduced by taking certain vitamins, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin B6, which have been linked to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. This may assist in improving asthma management.1
Can vitamins prevent asthma attacks?
Asthma attacks cannot be stopped by vitamins alone. However, by promoting good lung health, immunological function, and antioxidant defences, they may help lessen acute asthma episodes. To lower the risk of asthma attacks, an all-encompassing asthma treatment strategy that incorporates prescription drugs, lifestyle changes, and appropriate monitoring is required.5
Should I discontinue my asthma medications if I start taking vitamins?
Before you start taking vitamins, you shouldn't stop taking asthma drugs. They were recommended by your doctor for a purpose, and they are necessary for controlling asthma. Your prescription drugs cannot be replaced by vitamins. Always heed the advice of your doctor and carry out the asthma control plan as prescribed. Speak to your healthcare provider first if you have any queries or wish to alter your course of treatment.
Vitamins are essential for treating asthma symptoms and maintaining respiratory health. Vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin B6 have all been researched for their possible advantages in the management of asthma.
Supplementing with vitamin D may help asthma control since it has been associated with a reduction in asthma severity. The antioxidant qualities of vitamin C can assist in lowering asthma attacks and enhancing lung health. Another antioxidant, vitamin E, may have anti-inflammatory benefits and enhance lung function in people with asthma. Although further study is required to determine vitamin A's specific involvement in the management of asthma, it is essential for immunological and respiratory health. Some people may benefit from taking vitamin B6 supplements since it has been linked to asthma symptoms. Although vitamins can aid in managing asthma, they cannot take the place of prescription drugs or a healthy lifestyle. A healthy supply of these vital vitamins is a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods. To possibly lower the risk of asthma in their children, pregnant women are recommended to make sure they are getting enough vitamin E in their diet.
In general, vitamins can support traditional asthma therapies, improve asthma management, and benefit respiratory health. However, it is crucial for people with asthma to speak with medical specialists to choose the right supplements and create a thorough asthma treatment strategy.
- Alsharairi NA. The Effects of Dietary Supplements on Asthma and Lung Cancer Risk in Smokers and Non-Smokers: A Review of the Literature. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Oct 16]; 11(4):725. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521315/.
- Soriano JB, Abajobir AA, Abate KH, Abera SF, Agrawal A, Ahmed MB, et al. Global, regional, and national deaths, prevalence, disability-adjusted life years, and years lived with disability for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet Respir Med. 2017 Sep 1;5(9):691–706.
- Sozańska B, Sikorska-Szaflik H. Diet Modifications in Primary Prevention of Asthma. Where Do We Stand? Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Oct 16]; 13(1):173. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/1/173.
- Trivillin A, Zanella S, Castaldo RJ, Prati F, Zanconato S, Carraro S, et al. Early Oral Nutritional Supplements in the Prevention of Wheezing, Asthma, and Respiratory Infections. Front Pediatr [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Oct 16]; 10:866868. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8990313/.
- Zajac D, Wojciechowski P. The Role of Vitamins in the Pathogenesis of Asthma. IJMS [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 16]; 24(10):8574. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/24/10/8574.