Doha, Qatar—An estimated 300 million people across the globe are suffering with asthma. Of those diagnosed, almost seven million are American children, according to The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Some asthma is caused by allergies later in life, but about half of all cases are diagnosed at the age of 10 or below, making asthma one of the most common chronic diseases afflicting children, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. A new study from the International Archives of Allergy Immunology aimed to figure out why.

The study sought to find a connection between a lack of vitamin D and asthma in asthmatic children under the age of 16. Vitamin D is responsible for helping to regulate the immune system as well as interacting with calcium to keep bones strong. For the study, 483 asthmatics and 483 non-asthmatics were recruited and tested for levels of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, among other possible deficiencies. The results weighed in favor of a connection; 68.1% of the tested asthmatic children were moderately to severely vitamin D deficient, along with lacking in phosphorus and magnesium more so than the non-asthmatic subjects. Family history and everyday living had an impact; 66.7% of the tested asthmatics had a history of vitamin D deficiency and asthma in their families and lead a more sedentary, indoor lifestyle.

According to the results, monitoring vitamin D may be a significant way to predict asthma early-on in children. Although there is no cure for asthma, early detection can help to start treatment before symptoms increase over time.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2011