Sara Huffman | February 24, 2011 | Click here to view the original article

study of more than 3,000 kids reveals the culprit behind many childhood allergies could be low vitamin D levels.

Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University headed the study which looked at blood vitamin D levels collected in 2005-2006 from a nationally representative sample of more than 3,100 children and adolescents and 3,400 adults.

The samples are derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a unique program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States via interviews, physical examinations and laboratory studies.

One of the blood tests assessed was sensitivity to 17 different allergens by measuring levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a protein made when the immune system responds to allergens.

When the resulting data was analyzed by Einstein researchers, low vitamin D levels were linked to sensitivity to 11 of the 17 allergens tested, including both environmental allergens (e.g., ragweed, oak, dog, cockroach) and food allergens (e.g., peanuts) in children and adolescents.

For example, children who had vitamin D deficiency (defined as less than 15 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood) were 2.4 times as likely to have a peanut allergy than were children with sufficient levels of vitamin D (more than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood).

No association between vitamin D levels and allergies was observed in adults.

Michal Melamed, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology & Population Health at Einstein and senior author of the study said the research only shows an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of allergies, it doesn’t prove it.

Nevertheless, she said, children should certainly consume adequate amounts of the vitamin.

“The latest dietary recommendations calling for children to take in 600 IU of vitamin D daily should keep them from becoming vitamin-D deficient,” said Melamed.

The study was published in the February 17 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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