Nutrients For Asthma: Part-1

Words: Dr Richard FIRSHEIN

Many people use the words vitamin and supplement interchangeably. Technically, this is inaccurate. Supplements can be broken down into vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and a host of other compounds including bioflavonoids and isoflavones.

I will focus on the relatively small army of researched Nutrients For Asthma that can help to heal asthma. When I believe supplements are appropriate, I often start with an antioxidant, such as vitamin C, and the mineral, magnesium.

Other Nutrients For Asthma that I may prescribe for children include a general multivitamin, or antioxidant formula, N-acetylcysteine [NAC], selenium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, or fish oils. As you will see below, there is an accumulating body of research indicating that people with the highest intake of these anti-asthma nutrients have the lowest rates of asthma.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that more is better. I see many people who take high doses of supplements randomly and think this will be the route to good health.

But, some supplements in high doses can have adverse effects, including gastric irritation, or reflux. Excess vitamin C has been linked to kidney stones, and overdoses of magnesium can cause diarrhoea.

A well-balanced group of supplements should be taken under the guidance of a physician, and your doctor must be aware of any supplements that your child is taking. Then you can be alerted to any potential interactions with other supplements, or medications.

The doses I suggest below are a general guideline and should be discussed with your doctor. They may be higher, or lower, depending on a child’s specific needs.

Supplements should be consumed in an age appropriate form. Therefore, powders, tinctures, and chewable tablets may be more suitable for very young children, and capsules, tablets, and gels may be better for children over the age of ten.

It’s also important to remember that supplements do not replace drugs. Without exception, supplements should not be used in place of medication during an acute attack. In general, acute, or life-threatening symptoms of asthma should be treated with medications.

Supplements should be taken to prevent acute attacks from happening in the first place, to complement medical therapy, and to promote healing.

Magnesium

One of the most popular supplements for asthmatics is the mineral magnesium. There is tantalising research showing that magnesium — when added to nebulised albuterol — leads to improved pulmonary function.

Many researchers are investigating its use with a variety of different approaches. In addition to oral magnesium, many hospitals supplement asthma medications with intravenous magnesium for an acute attack in teenagers and adults.

One theory as to why magnesium works is that it relaxes the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes.

A number of studies have revealed magnesium’s effectiveness. A study in The European Respiratory Journal found that nebulised magnesium, when used to treat acute asthma, had a bronchodilatory effect similar to nebulised salbutamol, a bronchodilator.

Other studies have concluded that there seemed to be a correlation between low levels of magnesium and airway hyper-responsiveness in asthmatic patients.

The Journal of Family Practice reported that the higher rates of illness in African-Americans in urban areas may be due to a lack of magnesium. Another study supported the practice of adding magnesium to other medications for asthma patients with acute symptoms, or who end up in the emergency room [ER].

Thorax reported that deficiencies in vitamins A, C, E, and magnesium were associated with more severe symptoms in patients with brittle asthma [a rare form of asthma]. In short, there is a significant body of evidence that magnesium plays an important role in asthma.

Jack, a seven-year-old patient of mine, was having constant flare-ups of his asthma. His parents made significant progress by incorporating the Breath of Life  programme in his life; monitoring the foods he was eating, making sure his bedroom was free of dust mites, and so forth. Still, his asthma continued to flare up from time to time.

I started him on a regimen of 200mg of magnesium a day, and his mother was amazed to see that he started to feel better. The magnesium had a noticeable impact on his health and put him a step closer to recovery. He had a reduced need for his albuterol inhaler, and he responded better to it when he did need it.

Here’s an example of a child who had a significant and almost immediate response after being put on a very simple supplementation. His condition continued to improve as he stuck to the principles of the Breath of Life programme.

Magnesium can sometimes cause diarrhoea, cramps, or other abdominal complaints. If your child experiences this, discontinue the supplement immediately. In certain situations, your doctor may recommend a red blood cell magnesium test to determine if a magnesium deficiency exists.

My suggested daily dose of magnesium for asthmatic children is as follows:

  • Kids from two to four years old — up to 100mg
  • Kids from five to ten — up to 200mg
  • Kids from ten to fifteen — 200–500mg.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can disarm free radicals. A recent report suggests that pulmonary tissue can be damaged in many ways by chemicals and pesticides and that antioxidants can help prevent and repair this damage.

Vitamin C may have other positive properties as well. Research suggests that it is anti-inflammatory, decreases the risk of respiratory infection, and has some natural antihistamine effects.

The Annals of Allergy reported that vitamin C was beneficial in treating asthma and allergies. Since then, studies have rolled in endorsing this conclusion: British researchers found that the reduced intake of antioxidants including vitamin C in the British diet of the past twenty-five years has probably contributed to the increase in the prevalence of asthma.

The Journal of Asthma reported that, “decreased antioxidant protection may contribute to the pathogenesis of mild asthma.”

An interesting study from the Lancet indicates that in order to gain the maximum benefits of vitamin C, it is necessary to saturate the lungs with vitamins and that simple blood tests may not give us the true picture.

The body will try to maintain normal levels of vitamin C in the blood, while the lung lining itself is starved for the nutrient. Therefore, an asthmatic child may need higher levels than others.

I generally recommend that asthmatic children who are experiencing chronic symptoms start on the doses mentioned below, and then reduce them by as much as half once they are stronger and healthier.

Vitamin C is part of my overall programme, and often adequate amounts can be ingested through the diet. Again, a doctor should monitor these doses.

My suggested daily dose for asthmatic children with moderate to severe asthma:

  • Kids from two to four years old — 50 to 100mg
  • Kids from five to ten — up to 250mg
  • Kids from ten to fifteen — up to 500mg.

[To read the concluding Part-2 of this article, go to ThinkWellness360, February 27, 2022]

Dr RICHARD FIRSHEIN, DO, is the Founder-Director of The Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. He is a leading innovator and authority in the field of preventative and nutritional medicine, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has served as professor of family medicine. An internationally recognised leader in the field of integrative medicine and healthy aging, a cancer researcher, prolific author and writer, Dr Firshein has written several ground-breaking books, including the bestselling Reversing AsthmaYour Asthma-Free ChildThe Nutraceutical Revolution and The Vitamin Prescription [For Life]. This article is ©Dr Richard Firshein.

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