Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Effects of dietary strategies in asthma management

Class Ingredient or agent Effects
Elements Sodium restriction Ineffective
Oral magnesium supplementation

Conflicting findings reported in small trials

Overall, long-term use (300–450 mg/day) not shown to improve asthma control
Selenium supplementation Ineffective (100 microg/day)
Vitamins Vitamin B6 supplementation

Conflicting evidence

Overall, 200–300mg/day pyridoxine not shown to be effective for asthma management
Vitamin D supplementation
Overall, not shown to be effective for asthma management
500 IU cholecalciferol for 6 months reported to reduce flare-ups associated with infections
Limited evidence
Vitamin C supplementation

Not shown to be effective for asthma management

Limited evidence
Other Lactobacilli supplementation Ineffective

Bronchodilation at high doses (approximately equivalent to 3 cups coffee)

Impractical as asthma therapy due to adverse effects
Fish oil supplementation


(Does not apply to dietary fish)
Diets High-antioxidant-rich diet May help reduce the risk of asthma exacerbations and improve lung function (5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day)
Low-sodium diet Ineffective


Hasselmark L, Malmgren R, Zetterström O, Unge G. Selenium supplementation in intrinsic asthma. Allergy 1993; 48: 30-6. Available from:

Paul G, Brehm JM, Alcorn JF et al. Vitamin D and asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2012; 185: 124-32. Available from:

Pogson ZE, Antoniak MD, Pacey SJ et al. Does a low sodium diet improve asthma control? A randomized controlled trial. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2008; 178: 132-8. Available from:

Rowe BH, Camargo CA. The role of magnesium sulfate in the acute and chronic management of asthma. Curr Opin Pulm Med 2008; 14: 70-6. Available from:

Shaheen SO, Newson RB, Rayman MP et al. Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of selenium supplementation in adult asthma. Thorax 2007; 62: 483-90. Available from:

Sur S, Camara M, Buchmeier A et al. Double-blind trial of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) in the treatment of steroid-dependent asthma. Ann Allergy 1993; 70: 147-52. Available from:

Thien FCK, De Luca S, Woods RK, Abramson MJ. Dietary marine fatty acids (fish oil) for asthma in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002; Issue 2. Available from:

Welsh EJ, Bara A, Barley E, Cates CJ. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010; Issue 1. Available from:

Wood LG, Garg ML, Smart JM et al. Manipulating antioxidant intake in asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96: 534-43. Available from:

Last reviewed version 2.0

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