Australian researchers in a world’s first study have found that children with vitamin deficiency were more likely to develop asthma and other allergies later on in life.
The study which was carried out by researchers from Western Australia’s Telethon Kids Institute and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, has found evidence of a clear link between a lack of vitamin D in early childhood and allergic disorders such as asthma and eczema.
The more times children have deficient levels of vitamin D, the more likely they were to have asthma, allergies and eczema at age 10, lead author Dr. Elysia Hollams says.
The study revealed that children with vitamin D deficiency at six months of age were also more likely to experience two conditions previously associated with heightened asthma risk: increased harmful bacteria in the upper airways and increased susceptibility to severe lower respiratory infections involving fever.
The findings showed that vitamin D played an important role in regulating the immune system and promoting healthy lung development.
“Vitamin D can help to promote tolerance to allergens. So that means our immune system can ignore things that are harmless to it.
“When we get allergies is when our immune system has a response to something that it should just ignore.
“We still don’t know what the optimal level of vitamin D is for good lung health and immune function. We don’t know if supplementation will address this issue, or if healthy sun exposure is what is required, given that vitamin D is an indirect measure of recent sun exposure.”
Vitamin D deficiency has been on the rise in developing countries because of increased indoor time and sun-avoidance measures.
The sun is the best natural source of vitamin D, which is known to be important for lung function, lung development and immune function.