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Foods & Supplements that could help asthma

Oily fish & Vitamin D3

Prevention is always the best medicine.

The incidence and deaths of and from asthma in Australia is unacceptable 40,000 admissions to hospital and 400 deaths per year.

It is important to follow your doctors asthma management plan and also do what you can to help prevent asthma be avoiding known triggers.

Prevention of asthma may start in the womb and with a change of diet


  Studies have found that exposure in the womb to the fatty acids in salmon (also found in mackerel, sardines, trout and herring) may improve the programming of the immune system to prevent it from over-reacting to asthma triggers like animal fur and pollen later in life. Vitamin D in oily fish might also be helpful; other research has linked Vitamin A deficiency to children with asthma.

Did our grandmother get it right with cod liver oil supplements? I am convinced she did.


A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2016, sheds fresh light on the topic.

It found that women who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil supplements) in pregnancy reduced the risk of their children developing asthma by almost one third.

Author Professor Hans Bisgaard says they've "long suspected" there was a link between the low intake of omega-3 fatty acids in Western diets, and the rising rates of childhood asthma.

"This study proves that they are definitively and significantly related."

The study involved over 700 pregnant women in their third trimester. The women either took either fish oil supplements or a placebo.

The researchers found that the mums who took fish oil supplements in pregnancy reduced their children's risk of asthma by 31 per cent.

Protective Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction in Asthma

In a study of Sixteen asthmatic patients with documented EIB entered the study on their normal diet and then received either fish oil capsules containing 3.2 g of eicosapentaenoic acid and 2.0 g of docohexaenoic acid fish oil or placebo capsules  daily for 3 weeks

The authors of the study concluded.

The fish oil diet improved pulmonary function to below the diagnostic EIB threshold, with a concurrent reduction in bronchodilator use.

Our data suggest that fish oil supplementation may represent a potentially beneficial nonpharmacologic intervention for asthmatic subjects with EIB.  (chest, volume 129, Issue 1, January 2006, Pages 39-49)

Australia’s leading health research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), suggests that Australians should eat more fish. Fish is nutritious, providing energy (kilojoules), protein, selenium, zinc, iodine and vitamins A and D (some species only). Fish is also an excellent source of readily available long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are well known for their health benefits and are essential for life.

Researchers worldwide have discovered that eating fish regularly – two or more serves weekly – may reduce the risk of diseases ranging from childhood asthma, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer and other diseases typical of Western societies. Healthy ways to enjoy fish include baked, poached, grilled and steamed. (Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia)

Vitamin D protects against severe asthma attacks

Taking oral vitamin D3 supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve the risk of asthma attacks requiring hospital attendance, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).Tuesday 3 October 2017

Asthma affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is estimated to cause almost 400,000 deaths annually. Asthma deaths arise primarily during episodes of acute worsening of symptoms, known as attacks or ‘exacerbations’, which are commonly triggered by viral upper respiratory infections.

Vitamin D is thought to protect against such attacks by boosting immune responses to respiratory viruses and dampening down harmful airway inflammation.

The new study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, collated and analysed the individual data from 955 participants in seven randomised controlled trials, which tested the use of vitamin D supplements.

Effective and cost-effective

Overall, the researchers found that vitamin D supplementation resulted in:

  • a 30 per cent reduction in the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections - from 0.43 events per person per year to 0.30.

  • a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of experiencing at least one asthma attack requiring Accident and Emergency Department attendance and/or hospitalisation - from 6 per cent of people experiencing such an event to 3 per cent.

Vitamin D supplementation was found to be safe at the doses administered. No instances of excessively high calcium levels or renal stones were seen, and serious adverse events were evenly distributed between participants taking vitamin D and those on placebo.

Lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau said: “These results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health. On average, three people in the UK die from asthma attacks every day. Vitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive so supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem.”

The team’s use of individual participant data also allowed them to query the extent to which different groups respond to vitamin D supplementation, in more detail than previous studies.

In particular, vitamin D supplementation was found to have a strong and statistically-significant protective effect in participants who had low vitamin D levels to start with. These participants saw a 55 per cent reduction in the rate of asthma exacerbations requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections - from 0.42 events per person per year to 0.19.

However, due to relatively small numbers of patients within sub-groups, the researchers caution that they did not find definitive evidence to show that effects of vitamin D supplementation differ according to baseline vitamin D status.

Professor Hywel Williams, Director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme, said: “The results of this NIHR-funded study brings together evidence from several other studies from over the world and is an important contribution to reducing uncertainties on whether Vitamin D is helpful for asthma – a common condition that impacts on many thousands of people worldwide.”

Dr David Jolliffe from QMUL, first author on the paper, added: “Our results are largely based on data from adults with mild to moderate asthma: children and adults with severe asthma were relatively under-represented in the dataset, so our findings cannot necessarily be generalised to these patient groups at this stage. Further clinical trials are on-going internationally, and we hope to include data from them in a future analysis to determine whether the promise of today’s results is confirmed in an even larger and more diverse group of patie



A randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial among School Children in Japan was conducted. The Children were randomly divided into two groups: One group received daily supplements of 1200iu daily of vitamin D3, while the other group received a placebo. The children were then assessed for the incidence of influenza over the 2008 to 2009 winter period.  

The study found that the incidence of influenza was 10.8 per cent in the vitamin D3 supplemented group, compared with 18.6 per cent in the placebo group; this reduction was even greater for those who had low vitamin D (25OHVitD), with a 74 per cent reduction in the incidence of influenza. 

Also, asthma attacks were significantly reduced in asthmatic children in the vitamin D3 supplemented group. 
Setright R, Is There A Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic In Australia, And If So, Is This A Major Contributing Factor To Disease? Setright Letter, 2010 April;05:12:1-10


If you suffer allergies or asthma see your health care practitioner and follow their advice

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