Vitamin D deficiency: The root of all evil?
When I started writing posts about vitamin D, I thought it would be a straightforward three-part series: What does vitamin D do? What happens when you’re deficient in it? How can we prevent that from happening? The more I read on the subject, though, the more interesting things I learn—all of which underscore the need to supplement infants with vitamin D.
This latest item is from Australia—where they get plenty of sunshine—and turned up an association between vitamin D deficiency and food allergies in infants. Children in the Melbourne area with documented vitamin D deficiency were nearly four times more likely to suffer from food allergies than were those with normal vitamin D levels.
This supports the work of a number of researchers (one example here) who have found that people who live farther from the equator (and hence get less sunshine—and thus less vitamin D) are more likely to end up in an emergency room or hospital with a severe food allergy reaction than those who live in the tropics.
Sunshine and food allergies! That would have sounded like science fiction back in my 1970s med school days.
More on the relationship of vitamin D and immune system function coming up…
From the Journal of Allergy and Immunology:
Healthier than Lucy?
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Nov. 2 (UPI) — Infants who encounter a wide range of bacteria are at less risk of developing allergies later in life, researchers in Denmark said.
Professor Hans Bisgaard of Gentofte Hospital and the University of Copenhagen said 25 percent of the population of Denmark suffer from allergies.
“In our study of 411 children we observed a direct link between the number of different bacteria in their rectums and the risk of development of allergic disease later in life,” Bisgaard said in a statement. “Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiota during infancy was associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age, but if there was considerable diversity, the risk was reduced and the greater the variation, the lower the risk.
Time to let the young’uns roll in the mud!
Seriously…this study adds even more oomph to the argument against the steadily increasing cesarean rate, as the best way to acquire a diverse intestinal microbiota (the germs that live in your bowel and promote health in a number of ways) is to start life with a trip through the birth canal.