BACKGROUND Type 1 brittle asthma is a rare form of asthma. Atopy, psychosocial factors and diet may contribute to this condition. As increased dietary magnesium has a beneficial effect on lung function and selenium, vitamins A, C and E have antioxidant properties, a study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that patients with brittle asthma have diets deficient in these nutrients compared with subjects with non-brittle asthma and healthy adults.
METHODS A case control study of the dietary intakes of 20 subjects with brittle asthma, 20 with non-brittle asthma, and 20 healthy adults was performed using five day weighed dietary records. Intake of magnesium was the primary outcome measure with selenium and vitamins A, C and E as secondary outcomes. Serum levels were measured at the same time as the dietary assessment.
RESULTS Sixty subjects (27 men) of mean age 49.5 years were recruited and completed the study. Subjects with brittle asthma had statistically lower median dietary intakes of vitamins A and E than the other groups (vitamin A: brittle asthma 522.5 μg/day, non-brittle asthma 869.5 μg/day, healthy adults 806.5 μg/day; vitamin E: brittle asthma 4.3 mg/day, non-brittle asthma 4.6 mg/day, healthy adults 4.5 mg/day). Median dietary intakes for the other nutrients were not significantly different between groups. Serum levels were within normal ranges for each nutrient in all subjects. Intakes less than the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for magnesium and vitamins A and C, and less than the safe intake (SI) for vitamin E were more likely in patients with brittle asthma than in those with non-brittle asthma.
CONCLUSION Nutrient deficiency and reduced antioxidant activity may contribute to disease activity in type 1 brittle asthma, although a prospective study of replacement therapy will be needed to confirm this hypothesis.
- brittle asthma
- dietary deficiency
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