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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vitamin D Dificiecy May Explain Allergies, Asthma in Obesity



As of recently, there have been numerous studies that link allergy risks with obesity. More specifically, in children and teens that are obese. One study in particular was carried out in order to figure out exactly why obese individuals are more likely to have allergic reactions. The study shows that a vitamin D deficiency may be directly associated with a heightened allergic reaction.

Researchers from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD recently completed a study in which they gathered a group of 86 children between the ages of 10 and 18. More than half of the subjects were at or above the 85th percentile for age- and sex-adjusted body mass index (BMI), while the rest were at the normal weight for their age and sex. The study consisted of the testing of blood levels for vitamin D, immunoglobulin E (IgE), leptin, adiponectin, and cytokines that contribute to allergy and asthma.

The study revealed that the higher BMIs had significantly higher blood levels of leptin and lower adiponectin levels. Both of these substances have been previously linked to an enhanced allergic response. The study also showed that most of the obese children had a vitamin D deficiency. “The relationship between BMI and markers of allergic disease seemed to depend on vitamin D deficiency,” stated the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Candace Percival. “It was a dependent cofactor for adolescents having this allergy profile. It’s hard to say if there’s any sort of causal relationship, but this makes us wonder if vitamin D may be a mediator of the increased risk for allergy in the setting of obesity.”

It is known that vitamin D is important and necessary for immune system function. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic factors that aide the immune system in preventing allergic reactions from occurring. Many people that are obese often have a vitamin D deficiency. While the reason for this has not yet been confirmed, most doctors and researchers believe that people who are obese may be less likely to “convert vitamin D into its hormonally active form,” according to WedMD. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that much of it is distributed in fat tissue. An obese person may take in as much vitamin D as a person of normal weight, but their blood levels will be lower. This means obese people may need to obtain more vitamin D than the average person.

Obese individuals should take extra precautions when it comes to allergies and asthma to prevent allergic reactions and asthma attacks. During allergy season (spring, summer, and sometimes fall), it is important to refrain from being outdoors for long periods of time, especially on windy days because that is when pollen travels and tends to be at high levels. When going outdoors, individuals should take medicines prescribed by allergists, or should wear allergy masks and sunglasses to keep allergens out of eyes and airways. It is also important to keep the home allergy-free. Outdoor allergens can travel indoors through vents, windows, and tiny cracks in the home. There are also types of indoor allergens, such as dust mites. Individuals prone to allergies and asthma should keep air purifiers around the home, often change furnace filters (once a season), frequently wash bedding in hot water, as well as clothing.

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