Vitamin D, or the “sunshine vitamin” as many refer to it, touts a long-list of benefits, but you’ve probably heard it most frequently associated with bone health. Now, new research adds yet another benefit to the list: protection against childhood asthma.

In a study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers found that taking high doses of Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy can make positive changes in the immune system of the newborn baby, which may protect against asthma and respiratory infections.

Read: Gaining A Little Weight Before Pregnancy May Increase Risk Of Gestational Diabetes, Study Says

"The majority of all asthma cases are diagnosed in early childhood implying that the origin of the disease stems in foetal and early life,” lead researcher Catherine Hawrylowicz said in a statement.

Hawrylowicz and colleagues gave pregnant study participants either a high or low dose of vitamin D supplements. They were randomized to a dose during 10-18 weeks of pregnancy. The team then drew umbilical cord blood to test the newborn’s innate immune system. They found that blood samples from babies whose mothers took larger doses of the vitamin, had more responsive innate immune systems.

"Studies to date that have investigated links between vitamin D and immunity in the baby have been observational,” Hawrylowicz said. “For the first time, we have shown that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy can effectively alter the immune response of the newborn baby, which could help to protect the child from developing asthma. Future studies should look at the long-term impact on the immunity of the infant."

Furthermore, Hawrylowicz notes that more research needs to be done that proves if vitamin D leads to a lesser risk of asthma later in life.

Read: Common Blood Cancer Drug May Help Treat Severe Asthma, Study Says

Vitamin D deficiency is common among pregnant women. Studies have associated it with various conditions including a risk of pre-term birth and tissue-related conditions, according to the World Health Organization. Deficiency of the vitamin can also lead to abnormal bone growth, fractures, or rickets in newborns.

While you can get vitamin D through supplements, it’s also found naturally in some foods such as tuna, salmon, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Additionally, it’s often added to cereal and many brands of orange juice and yogurt. Another way to up your vitamin D intake is by spending more time in the sun. About 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine three times a week can produce all you need, according to MedlinePlus.

As with nearly everything, too much is never good either. Getting too much vitamin D can make your intestines absorb too much calcium, leading to spiked levels of it in your blood. This can lead to calcium deposits in the heart and lungs, kidney stones, and nausea or vomiting.

See also: What Is Thunderstorm Asthma? How Breathing Condition Killed 9 People In Australia

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