How Vitamin D Can Affect Your Allergies

Most people think of vitamin D as "the citrus vitamin" or "the sun vitamin". It's really not surprising after a couple of generations of people were raised on products like Sunny D. But there are many other sources for vitamin D. And that's pretty lucky, because vitamin D is far more essential than many people realize. There's even some evidence that it might help people with allergies.

The National Institutes of Health currently estimates that one in four people suffers from vitamin D deficiency. This is down from previous estimates of almost one in two people a few years ago. But for those still dealing with the deficiency, that improvement doesn't do much for their symptoms. The Cleveland Clinic states that these symptoms can include muscle pain, depression, fatigue, and weakness, all of which are related to the roles that vitamin D plays in the human body.

Our bodies use vitamin D to move muscles and bolster the nerves that carry messages between our brain and the rest of our body. And it helps our bodies absorb calcium. This is why so many milk brands are fortified with vitamin D. Missing out on vitamin D means an increased risk for osteoporosis and other side effects of weak or brittle bones.

Vitamin D is clearly important. And some researchers think they have found yet another reason for people to make sure they're meeting their daily needs. These scientists believe they have found a link between vitamin D and allergies.

It might suppress allergic reactions

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology made a few waves when it announced that vitamin D has an "important role" in the treatment of asthma, food allergies, and skin reactions, particularly in children. These researchers stated that when our bodies absorb vitamin D, the vitamin suppresses an immune response known as a Th2-type reaction.

The BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, explains that a Th2-type reaction is the internal process that causes the symptoms most people associate with allergies. By suppressing this reaction type, researchers claim, vitamin D reduces the overall allergic reaction.

This study also found that people with low vitamin D levels in their blood also seemed at a higher risk for food allergies. They explained that a lack of sufficient vitamin D leads to gastrointestinal infections which can then lead to the development of food allergies.

It's a promising development in the field of allergy research. If a vitamin D treatment can permanently reduce a person's allergic reactions, it would help countless people. Unfortunately, there is one setback to the research. A 2017 report in the European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found no meaningful link between adults with vitamin D deficiencies and the rate of allergic reactions. This study ran counter to much of the current literature, however, and the researchers stated that more study was needed. Vitamin D might be the next big allergy breakthrough. But only time will tell.