Vitamin D is essential for the management of overall health, but also may help with successful allergy treatment. When Dr. Mary Morris, Allergychoices Medical Advisor, was asked about the role of vitamin D in immunotherapy, she said, “The role it plays is complex, but in general, it aids in the proper functioning of the immune system, and fighting disease. Studies have shown positive correlation of quicker immunological response when Vitamin D is given during immunotherapy.”
At her clinical practice, Allergy Associates of La Crosse, Dr. Morris says that when treating allergy patients with sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), “We conduct a vitamin D blood test to be sure that patients are in the middle of an acceptable range.“ She adds, “Children need approximately 1000 IUs/day, and adults are recommended to have approximately 2000 IUs/day.”
According to a study published by the International Journal of Health Sciences, vitamin D deficiencies have reached epidemic levels, despite rapid advancement in medicine throughout the past century. There are a few ways to increase vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D absorption from sunlight
Nearly 50-90% of vitamin D absorption occurs from time in the sunlight. Due to skin cancer concerns, people spend less time in the sun, or are using more sunblock which blocks vitamin D absorption.
On average, one should spend 15-20 minutes in the sunlight with 40% of the body exposed daily. Skin needs direct exposure to the sun making it difficult for those who live in a northern climate to get adequate amounts of sun exposure during winter months. It can also be challenging for those who have darker skin, which absorbs less sunlight due to a higher concentration of melanin in the skin.
Vitamin D from food
Vitamin D can also be absorbed through the mouth, but many people struggle to get enough vitamin D through food alone. Particularly in American diets, foods high in vitamin D such as oily fish are less common. Some foods with vitamin D that can be added to your diet include:
- Wild caught salmon and mackerel
- Fortified milk and yogurt
- Egg yolks
A nutrition supplement may be necessary to get recommended levels in patients who have low vitamin D levels. Supplements are available in a variety of forms (liquid, gummy, chewable, gel cap, and tablet).
Vitamin D is critical for overall health — it prevents soft and fragile bones. Current research indicates vitamin D deficiencies contribute to obesity, osteoporosis, neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases, and several varieties of cancer.
Vitamin D and the immune system
A healthy level of vitamin D has been correlated with stronger immunological responses in allergy treatment. Talk to your doctor about your current levels of vitamin D, and if you need a daily supplement to prevent the long list of possible negative effects from a deficiency.