The B-Complex Vitamin Folic Acid may helpprevent allergies and asthma
The B-complex Vitamin Folic acid, already known to decrease
the risk of
heart disease, birth defects, loss of mental acuity with aging and the
risk of certain cancer may help suppress allergic reactions and lessen
the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms, according to new research
from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
In what is believed to be the first study in humans examining
the link between blood levels of folate – the naturally occurring form
of Folic Acid — and allergies, the scientists say results add to
mounting evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation. Recent
studies, including other research from Johns Hopkins, have found a link
between sufficient folate levels and reduced risk of
inflammation-mediated diseases, including heart disease.
In their study the scientists reviewed the medical records of
more than 8,000 people aged 2 to 85. The investigators tracked the
effect of folate levels on respiratory and allergic symptoms and on
levels of IgE antibodies, immune system cells that rise in number in
response to an allergic trigger. People with higher blood levels of
folate had fewer IgE antibodies, fewer reported allergies, less
wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma, researchers report. “Our
findings are a clear indication that folic acid may indeed help
regulate immune response to allergens, and may reduce allergy and
asthma symptoms,” says lead investigator Elizabeth Matsui, M.D. M.H.S.,
pediatric allergist at Hopkins Children’s
Other findings of the study:
- People with the lowest folate levels (below 8 nanograms per milliliter) had a 40 % higher risk of wheezing than people with the highest folate levels (above 18 ng/ml).
- People with the lowest folate levels had a 30% higher risk than those with the highest folate levels of having elevated IgE antibodies, markers of allergy predisposition.
- Those with the lowest folate levels had 31% higher risk of allergic symptoms than people with the highest folate levels.
- Those with lowest folate levels had 16% higher risk of having asthma than people with the highest folate
Blacks and Hispanics had lower blood folate levels — 12 and
12.5 nanograms per milliliter, respectively — than whites (15 ng/ml),
but the differences were not due to income and socio-economic status.
The Hopkins team is planning a study comparing the effects of folic
acid and placebo in people with allergies and asthma. The report on the
findings of the Johns Hopkins study appears online ahead of print in
the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.