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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

New study addresses conflicting information on vitamin D and allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. When an allergen, such as pollen, dust or animal dander (particles of shed skin and hair) is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system, they may get allergic rhinitis. In such individuals, the allergen triggers the production of the antibody immunoglobulin E. When grass pollens cause allergic rhinitis, it is known as hay fever.

Symptoms include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages, and an increase in mucus production. In Western countries, up to 25% of the population are affected by allergic rhinitis.

There are conflicting data on vitamin D and allergic rhinitis. A 2007 NHANES III study showed that the higher your vitamin D level, the more likely you would have allergic rhinitis.

Wjst M, Hypponen E. Vitamin D serum levels and allergic rhinitis. Allergy.  2007;62:1085e1086.

On the other hand, in a randomized controlled trial, vitamin D supplementation boosted corticosteroids in the treatment of allergic rhinitis and helped decrease sneezing, nasal congestion, and postnasal drip.

Baroody F, et al. The Addition of Vitamin D (VitD) to an Intranasal Steroid (INS) Improves Control of Symptoms in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (SAR). The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Feb 2012.

Now researchers in Korea studied vitamin D levels in more than 8,000 people in a cross sectional study of a normal population.

Jung JW, et al. Allergic rhinitis and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level in Korean adults. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Nov;111(5):352-7.

They found that the mean 25(OH)D level of the hay fever group was slightly lower than that of the non-allergic rhinitis group (16.71 vs. 17.75 ng/mL, P < .001).

They then separated the 8,000 people into 3 groups according to 25(OH)D level. Group I (<15 ng/mL, 2,644 patients), group II (between 15 and 25 ng/ml, 3,543 patients, and group III (>25 ng/mL, 1,099 patients). The researchers found that those in the lowest vitamin D group were more likely to have hay fever. The prevalence of hay fever was 13.0% in group I, 11.5% in group II, and 7.2% in group III. That is, allergic rhinitis was almost twice as likely if you had low 25(OH)D levels.

I don’t know what to make of the conflicting studies to date. The data in the Korean study was a little strange. For example, hypertension was significantly more prevalent in those with higher 25(OH)D levels, something we know is not the usual case (and does not corroborate with randomized controlled trials).

My allergic rhinitis continues even with my 25(OH)D level of 75 ng/ml. What have readers noticed?

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

One Response to New study addresses conflicting information on vitamin D and allergic rhinitis

  1. Rita and Misty says:

    I had a very high 25(OH)D level back in July: 166 ng/ml. I’ve cut back a bit on supplementation, so I’m going to guess (and w/o a blood test it is only a guess) that my level is now around 100 ng/ml. Yes, I do know I need to retest. :)

    Re: allergies:

    I used to suffer from autumn hay fever.

    I have not suffered from autumn hay fever for the last two autumn seasons–since raising my level to 74 ng/ml (or higher).

    I still will catch the occasional cold…but it is certainly occasional now. Prior to correcting my vitamin D deficiency, I would catch about 4 colds a year (one per season).

    No flu last year, and it was the very first year in about 25 years that I did not receive a vaccine. I will not get the flu vaccine this year either.