The role of vitamin D in histamine inflammation
Vitamin D acts as a fat soluble hormone that facilitates intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. The latter two are essential components needed by the body to manufacture the histamine degrading enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), so we definitely want to max out our ability to retain them. One of vitamin D’s most important roles however may be its regulation of the immune system, specifically histamine containing mast cells. In this capacity it has been shown to decrease production of histamine and leukotrienes.
Research tells us that immune cells have vitamin D receptors and that it plays an important role in protecting us from autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D specifically regulates the action of COX, an enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which are one of many inflammatory molecules released (along with histamine) by mast cells when they’re activated. Mast cells can be triggered into releasing these inflammatory elements into the blood stream by stress, high histamine foods, allergies, extremes in temperature and more.
I’ve experienced them all in spades and watched first hand as my mast cells spiralled out of control. Thankfully I learned to control my triggers and train my mast cells into not releasing too much histamine and other inflammation when not needed.
Vitamin D generally disrupts the release and production of inflammatory cytokines from mast cells, specifically interleukins and TNF. It can also promote the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that may help us heal. There’s also evidence that vitamin D may help regulate the allergic response and cause mast cells to die off. Lower than average levels of vitamin D have been found in those with autoimmune disorders like lupus, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and others.
While we can manufacture our own vitamin D with adequate sunlight if our liver and kidney function is optimal, increased cancer risk doesn’t make this an unattractive option as a first line treatment for low levels.
Vitamin D was one of the first supplements I got into after initially shunning them all, mostly due to horrible reactions, but also because I wanted to see how far I could get with just letting the body heal itself. It was after trying it that I learned that oil based supplements agreed with me far better. I have a few ideas on why, primarily because oil, especially olive, has been shown to increase the production of the histamine lowering enzyme DAO (diamine oxidase). As a bonus it’s also highly anti-inflammatory and may help prevent osteoporosis.
The foods highest in vitamin D foods are:
Cod liver oil
These may be foods many of us aren’t eating so testing vitamin D levels and then perhaps supplementing might be necessary (with your doctor’s blessing).
Please don’t forget to always check with your doctor before adding supplements. Taking a vitamin or mineral with purported properties if you don’t have a lack of it is probably not beneficial.
Yip KH, et al. Mechanisms of vitamin D3 metabolite repression of IgE-dependent mast cell activation. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2014: 13395), 1356-1364.e14
“Vitamin D.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.
Ykelenstam, Yasmina. Man Food. London: LHC Productions, n.d. Man Food. LHC Productions, 30 May 2015. Web.
Conti P, Kempuraj D. Impact of vitamin D on mast cell activity, immunity and inflammation. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research 2016: 4(1), 33-39.