: Vitamin D and Food Allergies
As food allergies have increased dramatically over the last ten years in this country, vitamin D levels in the population have decreased. Is there a connection?
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is essential for good health. It not only plays a major role in bone health but is also necessary for healthy immunity and much more. Vitamin D is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It can also be consumed through the diet and supplements. Salmon, tuna, sardines, and other oily fish are excellent sources, and eggs and vitamin D fortified foods like dairy and infant formulas are also good sources.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), areas further away from the equator (where people get less exposure to UV rays) have been shown to have higher rates of childhood food allergy-related hospital admissions, epi pen prescriptions, and peanut allergy (up to six times the risk) than areas closer to the equator. Being born in autumn or winter, when there is less UV exposure, has also been associated with a higher risk of anaphylaxis and food allergies.
In an Australian study, infants who were given egg (one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D) earlier (between four and six months) had significantly less food allergies than infants first given egg at six months of age or later. A separate study found that infants with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have egg or peanut allergies and were more likely to have multiple allergies compared to infants with normal vitamin D levels.
While it's still early to determine whether vitamin D can reverse food allergies, research is starting to support the idea that vitamin D can help protect against food allergies. "For most people, the best way to ensure you have enough vitamin D is a combination between sensible sun exposure and adequate intake of foods containing the vitamin," states the AAAAI. Your healthcare practitioner can assess your vitamin D level with a simple blood test and recommend a supplement if necessary.