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Beta-Carotene, vitamins and minerals may reduce eczema risk in children

February 1, 2010

Increased intakes of beta-carotene, vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin E and iron may reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis, suggests a new study.

In the study, the diets of 180 five-year-olds with atopic dermatitis (AD), a form of eczema, and 242 five-year olds without AD were assessed and blood samples were taken after a period of fasting to determine levels of fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), beta-carotene, and vitamin C (1).

Results showed that the risk of AD was 56 percent lower in children with the highest average intakes of beta-carotene, compared to the lowest. Moreover, dietary vitamin E, vitamin B9 (folic acid), and iron were associated with 67, 63, and 61 percent reductions in AD risk. The dietary intake data was also matched by data from the blood samples, with the highest average levels of alpha-tocopherol associated with a 36 percent lower risk of AD, while retinol was associated with a 26 percent lower risk.

The researchers commented that these findings suggest a higher antioxidant nutritional status to reduce the risk of AD. Antioxidant nutrients have been proposed to counteract oxidative stress and inhibit the inflammatory response and are known to be possibly associated with the ability of the individual to restrain the inflammatory response and allergic diseases. Consequently, antioxidant micronutrients could neutralize reactive oxygen species from environmental pollution and the sun that may promote oxidative damage to proteins in the outermost layer of the skin, which would exacerbate AD.

Atopic dermatitis (AD), characterized by areas of severe itching, redness and scaling, is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists it affects between 10 to 20 percent of all infants, but almost half of these kids will 'grow out' of eczema between the ages of five and 15.

References

  1. Oh S-Y. et al. Antioxidant nutrient intakes and corresponding biomarkers associated with the risk of atopic dermatitis in young children. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. February 2010.