Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov 19;5(1):8.
Institute of Genetic Medicine, EURAC research, Drususallee 1, I-39100 Bozen, Italy. wjst at helmholtz-muenchen.de
The history of the allergy pandemic is well documented, enabling us to put the vitamin D hypothesis into its historical context. The purpose of this study is to compare the prevalence of rickets, vitamin D supply, and allergy prevalence at 50-year intervals by means of a retrospective analysis of the literature since 1880. English cities in 1880 were characterized by an extremely high rickets prevalence, the beginning of commercial cod liver oil production, and the near absence of any allergic diseases.
By 1930 hay fever prevalence had risen to about 3% in English-speaking countries where cod liver oil was preferentially used for the treatment of rickets.
In 1980 vitamin D was used nation-wide in all industrialized countries as supplement to industrial baby food, thus eradicating nearly all cases of rickets. At the same time the allergy prevalence reached an all-time high, affecting about 30% of the population. Time trends are therefore compatible with the vitamin D hypothesis although direct conclusions cannot be drawn. It is interesting, however, to note that there are at least two earlier research papers linking synthesized vitamin D intake and allergy (Reed 1930 and Selye 1962) published prior to the modern vitamin D hypothesis first proposed in 1999.
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