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Supplements Associated with Improved Asthma Control in Children

Asthma is an inflammation of the airways. The inflammation decreases the size of the airways and makes it difficult to breathe. It can interfere with daily activities, limit physical abilities, and in the worst cases, cause death. Although there is no cure, good management will help decrease the negative impact. Management includes avoiding triggers, taking medicine as recommended, and staying healthy overall. Good nutrition plays an important role in overall health and may be able to play a role in asthma control as well.

Researchers in Egypt evaluated the role of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and zinc in asthma management for children. The study showed that these supplements may be associated with improved asthma control and pulmonary function.

About the Study

The trial involved 60 children with moderate asthma. All of the children were measured for degree of asthma control (asthma symptom occurrence and activities of daily living), pulmonary tests, and inflammatory markers (show inflammation in the airways) at the start of the trial. The children were all rotated through five six-week phases. Each phase had a different combination of three daily pills:

  • Omega 3 oil 1,000 mg (plus 2 placebos)
  • Zinc 15 mg (plus 2 placebos)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 200 mg (plus 2 placebos)
  • Combined supplementation with Omega 3 oil 1,000 mg, zinc 15 mg, and vitamin C 200 mg
  • Three placebos
The placebos were given to prevent bias. Between each six week phase, there was a two week period where no pills were taken to prevent effects from overlapping. The children were tested after each phase. Only about 80% of the children that started the study finished.

Each supplement individually was associated with an improvement in asthma control, pulmonary function tests, and inflammatory markers. The combination of the three supplements was associated with an even greater improvement, compared to the single supplement stages.

How Does This Affect You?    TOP

Asthma management is a combination of prevention, lifestyle changes, and medicine. Ideal control will limit interruptions in daily living and allow children to participate in normal physical activities. While this study does suggest an association, there are some concerns with the study. There were only a small number of children involved in the study. There was also a high number of dropouts, which could affect the intensity of the results.

The supplements used in this study are known to provide other health benefits and are easily available in a healthy, well-balanced diet. Talk to your child's doctor about goals for your child's diet, as well as vitamins and supplements. In creating an asthma management plan with your child, talk about nutrition choices, like eating fruits and vegetables, remaining physically active, and understanding how and when to use medicines.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America


Biltagi MA, Baset AA, Bassiouny M, Kasrawi MA, Attia M. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C and Zn supplementation in asthmatic children: a randomized self-controlled study. Acta Paediatr . 2009 Apr;98(4):737-42.
Last reviewed 12/10/2009 by Brian P. Randall, MD

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