Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle, Washington
Search
Health Information
Overview Health Conditions and Concerns Conditions A-M Conditions N-Z Healthy Lifestyle Tips Bastyr Health-E News News and Events Recommended Reading List Recipes National and Community Resources
Schedule an appointment today
Allergies | Low Folate Could Contribute to Allergies

Low Folate Could Contribute to Allergies

The prevalence of allergies and asthma have been on the rise over the past three decades, a trend encompassing all age groups, leading scientists to search for reasons. Declining air quality—both indoors and outside—is one widely examined possible culprit. Now evidence from a recent report from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, points to another contributing factor: low levels of folate (the natural form of folic acid) in the body.

Folate linked to less wheezing

NHANES is a large ongoing study examining the influences of nutrition and lifestyle on health and disease. Data collected for the recent report came from 8,083 children and adults enrolled in NHANES who underwent blood tests to measure folate levels and levels of antibodies known to be involved in allergic reactions. They also answered questions about whether they had been found by a doctor to have wheezing (a symptom of airway inflammation) or asthma in the previous year.

When the people in the study were grouped according to their folate levels, those with the lowest levels were the most likely to have high total levels of allergy-related antibodies. They were also the most likely to have high levels of antibodies to specific allergens such as dust mites, cat, and dog, and to have had wheezing in the previous year. In contrast, the people with the highest folate levels had the lowest levels of total and specific allergy-related antibodies and were the least likely to have wheezing.

Nutrition for allergy prevention

Folate, part of the B vitamin-complex is found abundantly in nature. Folate-rich foods include whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and some fruits like avocados and strawberries. Folate plays a critical role in cell division, and its importance to the developing fetus came to light in the 1970s when congenital neural tube defects and cleft palate were linked to low levels during pregnancy. Efforts to increase intake through education and fortification programs have helped improve folate status in many parts of the world; nevertheless, it remains one of the most common vitamin deficiencies worldwide.

More recent research has shed light on folate’s importance in modulating the immune system and preventing inflammatory processes that can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Although it only provides preliminary evidence, the new report from NHANES could lead to a broader understanding of the importance of folate-rich foods in disease prevention. “[Our] findings suggest that dietary folic acid and factors regulating its metabolism might play an important role in the development and perpetuation of allergy and asthma,” the study’s authors said.

Getting enough folate

With so much evidence pointing toward folate’s importance in preventing chronic disease, it’s a good idea to evaluate your diet and be sure you are getting enough.

  • Eat leafy greens every day. Try spinach, asparagus, and collard greens. Dark green lettuces can also be good sources, especially because they are not heated—some folate is lost during cooking.


  • Choose whole grain breakfast cereals or cereals that are fortified with folic acid.


  • Include lentils and beans, like pintos, black, and garbanzo beans, in soups and on salads, or try beans, brown rice, and avocado for a main dish.


  • Consider a multivitamin. Folic acid, the form of folate used in supplements, is very effective for improving folate status.

(J Allergy Clin Immunol 2009;123:1253–9)

September 10, 2009

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Copyright © 2009 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Aisle7 content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Aisle7. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Aisle7 shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Aisle7 and the Aisle7 logo are registered trademarks of Aisle7.

Learn More About It

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |

Find a Provider

Want to find the provider that's right for you? Learn more about our health care providers.  »



Bastyr Center Disclaimer
gif
gif

The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.

gif

Appointments: 206.834.4100
Bastyr Center clinic appointments

Submit a contact request or call us to schedule an appointment »

Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego

Are you looking for Bastyr University Clinic, our new teaching clinic in San Diego? More »

Learn More About Our Services

Natural medicine can treat many types of conditions including:

More treatable health conditions »


Bastyr Center healthcare providers

Interested in finding a provider who's right for you? We recommend that your first visit at BCNH be with a Naturopathic Medicine Provider. »

Home  | Health Information  | Health Care Services  | Our Providers  | Patient Care  | Dispensaries

About BCNH  | Contact Us  | Appointments  | Privacy Policy  | Site Map | Bastyr University