Published on Sep 18, 2011 with 0 comment
It has been recognized for some time that Vitamin D is critical for the maintenance of good health. Deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with many illnesses, and there is now good evidence to suggest that low levels of Vitamin D have a deleterious effect on asthma and allergies.
Research has indicated that Vitamin D levels play a regulatory effect on the production of cytokines, substances that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells. This effect, called immunomodulation, is a very sensitive and critical component in the immune response, and any change in the quantity of cytokines produced can cause specific cellular changes which can lead to disease.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, researchers at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver found that 47 percent of their asthma patients have vitamin D levels that are considered insufficient, and only 17 percent have deficient levels. They also found that asthmatic children with low vitamin D levels have higher levels of IgE, a nonspecific marker of allergy.
Asthmatics with low levels of Vitamin D are found to have poorer lung function, have higher levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an immune system protein the body makes in response to allergies, be more likely to need inhaled and oral steroids to reduce airway inflammation, and be more likely to need long-acting beta-agonist drugs to relax muscles in the lung’s airways.
Overall, Vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent in the general population than previously recognized. Because of this, efforts should be made to increase one’s level of Vitamin D. The sunshine’s ultraviolet rays are the primary source of Vitamin D and exposure to the sun for 15 minutes two to three times a week has been recommended. Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D, including cod liver oil and oily fish such as herring, mackerel, and salmon, are encouraged. Also recommended are milk, cereal, other dairy products, and fruit juices fortified with Vitamin D.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doubled their recommended intakes for vitamin D from 200 IU daily to 400 IU daily. The AAP recommends that exclusively and partially breastfed infants receive supplements of 400 IU/day of vitamin D shortly after birth and continue to receive these supplements until they are weaned and are consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D-fortified formula or whole milk. Similarly, all non-breastfed infants should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU/day. AAP also recommends that older children and adolescents who do not obtain 400 IU/day through vitamin D-fortified milk and foods should take a 400 IU vitamin D supplement daily. Because Vitamin D is not a water soluble vitamin and can be stored in the body, care must be taken not to exceed recommended doses.
Allergists and other physicians are recognizing the importance of Vitamin D. Many are routinely recommending vitamin D supplementation in their patients with allergies and asthma.