Environmental medicine researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute have confirmed that antioxidant intake among children reduces the risk of allergies.
The researchers studied the diets and allergy rates among 2,422 Swedish children who were eight years old. Blood samples were analyzed together with diets, gathered by way of questionnaires taken by parents of the children.
The researchers compared antioxidant intake with allergy sensitization, including hay fever and asthma incidence.
The study found that children who consumed higher levels of beta-carotene had a third less incidence of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). They also found that higher magnesium consumption resulted in more than a third less incidence in asthma.
This is not the first study linking lower antioxidant consumption rates with allergies among children. In an extensive review of research from Italy's University of Verona published this past May, researchers found that the higher consumption of fruits and vegetables among pregnant mothers and their children during infancy was related to a significantly lower incidence of wheezing and asthma. They found that foods containing higher levels of vitamin C and selenium reduced risk of wheezing, and serum levels of these were also associated with less wheezing. The research also indicated that a lack of zinc and carotenoids (such as beta-carotene) in mothers increased the risk of asthma and allergies in their children.
Another study from Swedish researchers – this one from 2009 – found that multivitamin feeding to children at or under four years old reduced the incidence of allergies by nearly 40%. This study followed 2,423 Swedish children, and also measured their IgE levels to specific allergens. Interestingly, however, this study showed little relationship between multivitamin use among eight year-olds and current allergy conditions.
The evidence linking allergies and asthma to the diets of children is increasing. Of course, this is not the only relationship. There are other relationships, related to the immune system and the digestive system that are also critical.
- Rosenlund H, Magnusson J, Kull I, Håkansson N, Wolk A, Pershagen G, Wickman M, Bergström A. Antioxidant intake and allergic disease in children. Clin Exp Allergy. 2012 Oct;42(10):1491-500.
- Peroni DG, Bonomo B, Casarotto S, Boner AL, Piacentini GL. How changes in nutrition have influenced the development of allergic diseases in childhood. Ital J Pediatr. 2012 May 31;38:22.
- Marmsjö K, Rosenlund H, Kull I, Håkansson N, Wickman M, Pershagen G, Bergström A. Use of multivitamin supplements in relation to allergic disease in 8-y-old children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec;90(6):1693-8.u
- Adams C. Asthma Solved Naturally: The Surprising Underlying Causes and Hundreds of Natural Strategies to Beat Asthma. Logical Books, 2011.