Folic Acid May Help Treat Allergies

Photo: Man surrounded by grass blowing his nose

Allergy can turn the most beautiful
spring into a nightmare; © ABDA

In a study examining the link between blood levels of folate - the naturally occurring form of folic acid - and allergies, the scientists say results add to mounting evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation. Recent studies found a link between folate levels and inflammation-mediated diseases, including heart disease.

Cautioning that it is far too soon to recommend folic acid supplements to prevent or treat people with asthma and allergies, the researchers emphasise that more research needs to be done to confirm their results, and to establish safe doses and risks.

Reviewing the medical records of more than 8,000 people ages two to 85 the investigators tracked the effect of folate levels on respiratory and allergic symptoms and on levels of IgE antibodies, immune system markers that rise in response to an allergen. People with higher blood levels of folate had fewer IgE antibodies, fewer reported allergies, less wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma, researchers report.

“Our findings are a clear indication that folic acid may indeed help regulate immune response to allergens, and may reduce allergy and asthma symptoms,” says lead investigator Elizabeth Matsui. “But we still need to figure out the exact mechanism behind it, and to do so we need studies that follow people receiving treatment with folic acid, before we even consider supplementation with folic acid to treat or prevent allergies and asthma.”

The current recommendation for daily dietary intake of folic acid is 400 micrograms for healthy men and non-pregnant women. Many cereals and grain products are already fortified with folate, and folate is found naturally in green, leafy vegetables, beans and nuts.; Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine