A Sneeze from Less Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D associated with increased likelihood of allergies among children

February 28, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) A new study shows that children with low vitamin D levels may have a greater likelihood of developing allergies.

Vitamin D is a chemical that can be obtained either through exposure to UV radiation or from ingesting food or supplements containing the vitamin. Vitamin D is important because it delivers calcium from digested food to the blood stream, where it can keep bones strong.

Looking at blood samples from more than 6,500 children and adults, a team led by researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine found no correlation between levels of vitamin D and allergies in adults. However, they found that children with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have a sensitivity to 11 of 17 different allergens, including ragweed, oak, dog, cockroach, and peanuts among others.

The study's findings showed, for example, that children with a vitamin D deficiency were more than twice as likely as those with sufficient levels of vitamin D to have an allergy to peanuts.

The researchers defined vitamin D deficiency as having less than 15 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood, and sufficient levels as more than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

According to senior author Michal Melamed, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the study's results do not demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency causes allergies in children. Rather, the researchers only identified a correlation between the two.

Nonetheless, Melamed says that children should still get the recommended amount of daily vitamin D (600 IU per day).

Allergies affect a vast amount of people in the United States. More than 54 percent of Americans are sensitive to one or more allergens. In 2006, more than 9 percent of children were diagnosed with hay fever within the last year.

The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology