Last month, the FDA came out with a new warning for anyone with asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Never take an inhaled long-acting beta- agonist such as Advair, Symbicort, Serevent, or Foradil, unless you also take an inhalable steroid. According to a new meta-analysis, these drugs, when used alone to control asthma, may increase your risk of hospitalization or dying!

Doctors prescribe drugs like Advair and Symbicort. If inhaled, corticosteroids don't control your asthma. They just relax muscles in your lungs and airways and can improve your ability to breathe. But--as the new meta-analysis shows--they can also make your asthma worse.

Thankfully, a new study proves you can improve lung function by taking a simple mineral known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Every little bit counts

Scientists recruited 55 patients with mild to moderate asthma. Half of the patients took 340 mg of magnesium daily for six months. The other half got a placebo (or sugar pill). After six months, the lung capacity in the magnesium group improved by six percent. The group taking the placebo didn't experience any improvement.

Now--I'll admit six percent isn't a huge gain. But it's definitely an improvement. Especially if it makes the difference between taking a drug like Advair and not taking it!

Lastly, please note that 340 mg of magnesium is probably more than you'll find in your regular multivitamin. So you may have to add a magnesium supplement to get to the amount you need. But it's nontoxic (unless you have kidney failure) and it can be taken without calcium (just don't take calcium without equal parts magnesium).