Senior author Dr. Michal Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University looked at the serum vitamin D levels in blood collected in 2005-2006 from a nationally representative sample of more than 3,100 children and adolescents as well as 3,400 adults.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that combines interviews, physical examinations and laboratory studies.
One of the blood tests assessed was sensitivity to 17 different allergens by measuring levels of Immunoglobulin E, a protein made when the immune system responds to allergens.
The research team found no association between vitamin D levels and allergies in adults, but for children and adolescents, low vitamin D levels correlated with sensitivity to 11 of the 17 allergens tested, including both environmental allergens such as ragweed, oak, dog, cockroach and food allergens such as peanuts.
The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found children who had vitamin D deficiency -- defined as less than 15 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood -- were 2.4 times more likely to have a peanut allergy than were children with sufficient levels of vitamin D.