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News - Eczema - Vitamins and minerals may reduce eczema risk

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

According to research recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children with the highest average intakes of beta carotene, vitamin E, folic acid and iron have significantly lower risks of eczema.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis as it’s also known, is characterised by areas of severe itching, redness and scaling that flare up as part of an over-active allergic response. It affects between 10% and 20% of all infants, but almost half of them will 'grow out' of their eczema between the ages of five and 15.

During the study, the researchers examined the nutrient status of 422 five-year-olds, 180 of whom were eczema sufferers. The children’s diets were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and blood samples were taken to measure the levels of certain vitamins.

The questionnaire results showed that the risk of eczema was 56% lower in children with the highest average intakes of beta carotene, compared to those with the lowest intake. Moreover, dietary vitamin E, folic acid, and iron were associated with 67%, 63%, and 61% reductions of eczema risk respectively. The blood tests showed similar results with the highest average levels of vitamin E associated with a 36% lower risk of eczema, while vitamin A was associated with a 26% lower incidence.

The researchers note the nutrients are likely to be acting as antioxidants, helping to protect the skin from free radical damage and reducing inflammation. 

Article References

S.Y. Oh et al. (2010) Antioxidant nutrient intakes and corresponding biomarkers associated with the risk of atopic dermatitis in young children European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Epub ahead of print.

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