Vitamin D as an adjunctive therapy in asthma. Part 2: A review of human studies

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Jun;32:75-92. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2015.02.010. Epub 2015 Mar 5.


Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is highly prevalent worldwide, with adverse effects on bone health but also potentially other unfavorable consequences. VDD and asthma-incidence/severity share many common risk factors, including winter season, industrialization, poor diet, obesity, dark skin pigmentation, and high latitude. Multiple anatomical areas relevant to asthma contain both the enzyme responsible for producing activated vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor suggesting that activated vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) may have important local effects at these sites. Emerging evidence suggests that VDD is associated with increased airway hyperresponsiveness, decreased pulmonary function, worse asthma control, and possibly decreased response to standard anti-asthma therapy. However the effect is inconsistent with preliminary evidence from different studies suggesting vitamin D is both beneficial and detrimental to asthma genesis and severity. Current evidence suggests that supplementation with moderate doses of vitamin D may be appropriate for maintenance of bone health in asthmatics, particularly steroid users. However emerging data from an increasing number of randomized, controlled, intervention studies of vitamin D supplementation in pediatric and adult asthma are becoming available and should help determine the importance, if any of vitamin D for asthma pathogenesis. The purpose of this second of a two-part review is to review the current human literature on vitamin D and asthma, discussing the possible consequences of VDD for asthma and the potential for vitamin D repletion as adjunct therapy.

Keywords: Airway; Allergy; Asthma; Diet; Epidemiology; Nutrition; Sun; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / metabolism
  • Vitamins / pharmacology


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D