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Study finds limited benefit for vitamin D in asthma treatment
Date:5/18/2014

edication, no difference in the number of asthma attacks and no difference in their need for emergency care. Patients taking vitamin D did not report improved quality of life, based on questionnaires.

One way the groups differed, however, was in how successfully they were able to reduce their daily dosages of inhaled steroids. After the first 12 weeks of the study, if the patient's asthma was well-controlled, the investigators cut in half the daily dose of inhaled steroid, reducing it from 320 micrograms per day to 160. Then, after eight more weeks, if the disease remained controlled, they cut the dose in half again. While both groups were able to taper off their doses of inhaled steroid, the vitamin D group was able to reduce its medication more. By the end of the 28-week study, the vitamin D group was taking an average of 111 micrograms per day, and the placebo group was taking an average of 126.

"The difference was small 15 micrograms of steroid per day but statistically significant," said Castro, who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Over the long term, even that small amount may have an important impact on reducing side effects of inhaled steroids. Although inhaled steroids work very well in controlling asthma, patients don't like them because they cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. Anything we can do to reduce the amount they need is important."

The investigators also noted that despite taking large doses of vitamin D, not all patients in the treatment group achieved what are considered sufficient blood levels of the vitamin. After taking the supplements, 18 percent of the treatment group still had blood levels of vitamin D below 30. The reason that some patients did not appear to respond to the vitamin D supplements is unclear. Though the investigators noted that these patients were more likely to be overweight or obese.

When they looked only at the 82 percent of patient
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Contact: Julia Evangelou Strait
straitj@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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Study finds limited benefit for vitamin D in asthma treatment
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