Folic Acid: The Future of Asthma Management?

Folic Acid Benefits

Research released in the spring of 2009 by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center has found an important link between the level of folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid) that exists in people's blood and their risk of suffering from conditions related to inflammation, which includes asthma. In fact, when the airways are inflamed, it makes it more difficult to pass air in and out of the lungs and causes wheezing and other asthma symptoms.

The Folate-Inflammation link

The folate study, which was included in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in June of 2009, made some interesting connections that could have an important impact on the future of asthma treatment.

The researchers reviewed the medical records of more than 8,000 people of all ages, in order to better understand how the level of folate in the body relates to the way the immune system responds to allergy triggers. They also wanted to see how the respiratory system fits in to the bigger picture.

They found that people with higher levels of folate acid had lower episodes of allergies, asthma and wheezing. Conversely, people with lower levels of folate had increased risks of all three things.  But while the folic acid benefits became very clear to researchers, exactly why they exist, or how they occur, is less concrete.

Dietary Guidelines

The current nutritional guidelines for folic acid recommend that most women and men take 400 micrograms a day. (Pregnant women need a higher dose and should check with their doctors.) Also keep in mind that many foods naturally contain folate, or are at least fortified with this vitamin. This includes a variety of cereals, grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts and beans. 

Other Health Benefits

Improving your asthma symptoms is just one of the many benefits you can get from folate. Please review the list below of other advantages folate provides. This includes:

  • Keeping red blood cells healthy
  • Reducing spinal birth defects
  • Lessening allergic responses
  • Lowering risk of stroke
  • Reducing heart disease
  • Preventing some cancers
  • Heading off Alzheimer's Disease

What this Means to You

While the folic acid benefits are extremely promising, especially for asthma sufferers, researcher caution patients to wait until more information is available. In the meantime, Johns Hopkins researchers will be conducting further studies to better understand how taking folic acid may asthmatics keep their respiratory symptoms in check and at the same time, provide so many other important protective benefits.


Journal of Allergy and Immunology

Johns Hopkins Children's Center