Folate Alleviates Allergies, Asthma

Folate, or vitamin B9, may alleviate allergic reactions and allergy symptoms by shutting down inflammation, according to a study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Although previous studies have noted a potential connection between folate and inflammatory conditions like heart disease, this study, conducted at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre in Baltimore, discovered actual links between higher levels of folate and relief from asthma, atopy and respiratory symptoms.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study involved a review of medical data from 8083 patients aged 2 to 85 who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Data from this study was used to analyse serum folate and total immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels. IgE is a class of antibodies that mediates allergic reactions; higher levels indicate a higher incidence of allergic reaction.

According to review results, higher folate levels were linked to lower IgE levels, fewer reported allergies, decreased wheezing and a lower likelihood of the patient developing asthma.

People with the lowest folate levels (less than 8 ng per ml of blood) had a

  • 40% increased risk of wheezing,
  • 30% increased risk elevated IgE levels,
  • 31% increased risk of allergic symptoms, and a
  • 16% higher risk of asthma

compared to those with the highest levels of folate (above 18 ng per ml of blood).

The authors also noted asthma and respiratory symptoms in patients who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. However, additional research is needed to confirm these early findings and to determine exactly how folate works on inflammatory responses. The research team now plans to an in vivo study compare the effects of folate to placebo in people with allergies and asthma.

Folate occurs naturally in food like leafy vegetables, asparagus, fruits, legumes, yeast, mushrooms, and organ meat. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used primarily in baked goods and ready-to-eat cereals.

I would recommend that you supplement with methylfolate, a much more readily assimilated form rather than folic acid.