Are You Concerned About Allergies?
Millions of people worldwide are affected by seasonal and food allergies. Allergies are hypersensitivity responses that occur when the immune system overreacts to substances that are normally harmless such as pollen, pet dander, or certain foods. Allergies are associated with a variety of symptoms such as sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, skin rashes and digestive symptoms. Some allergies need an immediate medical intervention as life threatening while most of the allergy management involves allergen avoidance and symptomatic treatment by medications. However, there is substantial research support on application of micronutrients in modulating the immune response and reducing allergy symptoms. Some of these include:
Vitamin C, is a potent antioxidant and in addition to its anti-inflammatory effect it can also inhibit release of histamine which causes most of the allergy symptoms. In clinical trials in individuals with allergic rhinitis a high-dose vitamin C supplementation significantly decreased histamine levels. Also, vitamin C supplementation may reduce the duration and severity of asthma symptoms induced by the common cold.
Quercetin, a natural plant flavonoid present in fruits and vegetables such as onions, apples, berries, and citrus bioflavonoids has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its potent anti-allergic actions relate to its ability to inhibit cellular histamine release. Quercetin also supports vitamin C actions by facilitating its proper absorption and preventing its destruction in the body. Our research and clinical evidence shows that quercetin can indirectly facilitate anti-allergic responses by increasing the levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an active compound in green tea, and other polyphenols in the blood when administered together1, 2 .
Vitamin D, a crucial hormone involved in immune system regulation has also an anti-allergic potential. Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D may contribute to the development and severity of allergies. Increasing vitamin D levels through sunlight exposure and its intake from fortified foods or supplements may help modulate immune responses and potentially help in allergies. Researchers continue to explore the inverse relationship between vitamin D levels in pregnancy and the development of allergic diseases in infants in their later lives.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have anti-inflammatory properties and may help in better management of allergy symptoms. Studies have indicated that omega-3 supplementation can decrease the production of inflammatory compounds involved in allergic reactions. Omega-3 supplementation is also shown to reduce airway inflammation and improve lung function in individuals with asthma. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are mostly known for supporting gut health and digestion, but they also play a critical role in immune regulation. It is well known that a poorly functioning digestive system can lead to inadequate nutrient absorption and the development of various health issues including seasonal allergies. Probiotics can modulate the immune system responses to certain allergens potentially reducing allergy symptoms. Research suggests that specific strains of probiotics may be effective in alleviating symptoms of allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
While avoiding the allergens is not always possible, it is important to consider including safe and effective natural compounds as an additional support in your allergy management.
1. A. Kale, et al., Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24 Suppl 1:S48-55
2. S. Gawande, et al., Phytother Res. 2008, Vol. 22- 6, pp 802–808