Vitamin D & Allergies
Vitamin D has been aptly called “The Sunshine Vitamin,” because one of the best sources of this vitamin comes from above. Researchers have been pouring out studies showing that good levels of Vitamin D protect us against depression, breast cancer, bone loss…. and yes, allergies.
How Does Vitamin D Do All of These Things?
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, it also acts as a hormone. There are two ways it can be brought into the body and into action:
- The Sun: As mentioned above, the sun is an excellent way to stimulate Vitamin D production in our skin cells. That production eventually benefits our livers and kidneys.
- Diet & Supplementation: Another way to bring Vitamin D into the body is through the ingestion of food or vitamin supplements.
Vitamin D has critical functions in cells throughout the body and medical practitioners are only now just starting to understand its benefits to immune function.
Vitamin D & Allergies
Allergic inflammation in the nose, eyes, lungs, and skin are examples of an immune system that is out of balance. Allergies affect patients all over the United States, but interestingly areas, where people have the highest Vitamin D, have the lowest risk of severe allergic reactions. You can guess which regions of the country have the best source of Vitamin D: the sunshine states! (Arizona, California, Texas, and Florida). These states get strong enough sun throughout the year to stimulate significant Vitamin D levels.
So, for the rest of us who aren’t lucky enough to be in these warm-weather locales, we improvise! Thank goodness Vitamin D can be taken in a bottle or a pill.
What is a Good Level of Vitamin D?
Today many foods are fortified with Vitamin D. However, these fortified foods aren’t enough to give you good levels of Vitamin D.
I recommend that patients living in the colder winter climates take at least 3,000 international units of Vitamin D daily.
In my patients, I like a level between 40 and 50 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
Besides a Vitamin D-diet, another important way to obtain protective levels of Vitamin D is to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine on your body without sunscreen. In the U.S., we” ve been clobbered over the head about skin cancer (and rightfully so) but have gone to the other extreme in getting a far too little sun. Unfortunately, I see many children spending more and more time indoors on their computers, resulting in extremely low levels of Vitamin D (in the single digits).
All it takes is a nice mid-afternoon bike ride, so that your arms and legs are exposed, to get the necessary Vitamin D.
Get your Vitamin D exposure during the summer! You can store it up for winter.
Can You Get Too Much Vitamin D?
In rare circumstances, it is possible to get too much Vitamin D. Gary Null, the famous alternative medicine advocate, actually became extremely ill from super high levels of Vitamin D — over a 100 nanograms per deciliter in the blood! One of his very own brand supplements got contaminated with high doses of Vitamin D, which caused him to suffer from severe fatigue and weakness.
Case Study: Eczema, Asthma & Vitamin D
One of my most memorable cases involving Vitamin D was with a 5-year-old boy I was treated for severe allergic eczema and asthma. He was this adorable, blue-eyed fair-skinned child covered with a red, scaly rash from head to toe. I evaluated him for his allergies, and he was highly allergic to several foods: eggs and milk. He also had strong positive tests for dust mites. I instructed his mother to avoid the foods he tested positive for, and to encase his mattress and pillow with hypoallergenic covers to decrease the dust mite exposure. I also treated him with allergy drops for the dust mite. He was gradually starting to improve with all of these measures.
But it was when I added Vitamin D liquid drops into his regimen that his eczema and his asthma completely cleared up!
It seems everyone knows their total cholesterol level, but if you have allergies, knowing your Vitamin D level may be more important! It’s a simple test, and the information it provides can help you Get Better…Live Better. Give us a call, we are here to help.
Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island