Vitamin D levels and food and environmental allergies in the United
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Published online 17 February 2011.
Shimi Sharief, MD, Department of Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
Sunit Jariwala, MD, Department of Allergy and Immunology, Montefiore Medical Center,
Juhi Kumar, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College, New
Paul Muntner, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
School of Public Health, Birmingham, Ala
Michal L. Melamed, MD, MHS, Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Population
Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Corresponding Author:: Michal L. Melamed, MD, MHS, 1300 Morris Park Ave, Ullmann 615,
Previous research supports a possible link between low vitamin D levels and atopic
disease. However, the association between low vitamin D levels and total and
allergen-specific IgE levels has not been studied.
We sought to test the association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D)
deficiency (<15 ng/mL) and insufficiency (15-29 ng/mL) and allergic sensitization
measured by serum IgE levels in a US nationally representative sample of 3136 children
and adolescents and 3454 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
The association of 25(OH)D deficiency with 17 different allergens was assessed after
adjustment for potential confounders, including age; sex; race/ethnicity; obesity, low
socioeconomic status; frequency of milk intake; daily hours spent watching television,
playing videogames, or using a computer; serum cotinine levels; and vitamin D supplement
In children and adolescents allergic sensitization to 11 of 17 allergens was more
common in those with 25(OH)D deficiency. Compared with sufficient vitamin D levels of
greater than 30 ng/mL, after multivariate adjustment, 25(OH)D levels of less than 15 ng/mL
were associated with peanut (odds ratio [OR], 2.39; 95% CI, 1.29-4.45), ragweed (OR,
1.83; 95% CI, 1.20-2.80), and oak (OR, 4.75; 95% CI, 1.53-4.94) allergies (P < .01
for all). Eight other allergens were associated with 25(OH)D deficiency, with P values
of less than .05 but greater than .01. There were no consistent associations seen
between 25(OH)D levels and allergic sensitization in adults.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher levels of IgE sensitization in
children and adolescents. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.
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