Folic acid may help treat allergies and asthma

May 11, 2009


This is the season when allergies can begin to make themselves felt and among natural remedies available, including bee pollen, there is now new evidence that folic acid, or vitamin B9, may also suppress allergic reactions and lessen the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, carried out at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in the US, and reported in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

The link between blood levels of folate – the naturally occurring form of folic acid — and allergies adds to increased evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation which is at the root of allergic reactions. This research showed that people with the lowest folate levels had a 30 percent higher risk of developing allergies and a 31 percent higher risk of allergic symptoms than people with the highest folate levels. On the asthma front, there was a 16 percent higher risk of having asthma in those with the lowest folate levels.

Asthma affects more than 5 million adults and children in the UK, and is the most common chronic condition among children. Environmental allergies have an even wider reach so anything that helps strengthen your system to resist them has to be worth considering, particularly if you are already suffering from allergies.

The researchers say it’s too soon to start recommending folic acid supplements to prevent or treat people with asthma and allergies, but you could check how many of the folic-deficiency symptoms you have from this list:

* Irritability
* Mental fatigue, forgetfulness, or confusion
* Depression
* Insomnia
* General or muscular fatigue
* Gingivitis or periodontal disease

Adult men and women (except during pregnancy) are recommended to have 400 micrograms of folate a day and many cereals and grain products are already fortified with it so you may be getting enough. If you think you might be deficient then you might want to increase, or add, excellent food sources such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, green peas, avocado, banana, lentils and nuts.


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