Vitamin D deficiency associated with allergies in children, adolescents

March 18, 2011

Children and adolescents who are vitamin D deficient appear to be at higher risk for certain food and environmental allergies, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The association, however, does not hold true for adults.

Children and adolescents who are vitamin D deficient appear to be at higher risk for certain food and environmental allergies, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The association, however, does not hold true for adults.

Researchers studied the association between serum vitamin D deficiency (

The researchers examined the relation between vitamin D deficiency and 17 allergens after adjusting for age; sex; race; obesity; economic status; milk intake; time spent watching television, playing video games, or using the computer; exposure to smoking (measured by serum cotinine levels); and vitamin D supplementation.

Allergic sensitization to 11 of 17 allergens occurred more frequently in children and adolescents who were deficient in vitamin D. Compared with vitamin D levels considered sufficient (>30 ng/mL), vitamin D levels indicating deficiency were linked with peanut (odds ratio [OR], 2.39), ragweed (OR, 1.83), and oak (OR, 4.75) allergies (P

The other allergens associated with vitamin D deficiency included cockroach, dog, shrimp, Alternaria species, Bermuda grass, ryegrass, birch, and thistle (P values ranging from .01). In composite allergy categories, vitamin D deficiency was linked with a higher rate of allergy to perennials (OR, 1.80). There were few significant associations between vitamin D deficiency in adults and IgE allergen sensitization.

It is not clear why there is a connection between vitamin D deficiency and allergies in children and adolescents but not in those older than 21 years, say the researchers. “The prevalence of both allergic symptoms and vitamin D deficiency is increasing in the United States, and this study suggests these 2 phenomena might be linked,” they conclude.

Sharief S, Jariwala S, Kumar J, Muntner P, Melamed ML. Vitamin D levels and food and environmental allergies in the United States: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011. Epub ahead of print.