Will Vitamin D Help My Chronic Hives?
Last updated: April 2023
Scientists have discovered a possible connection between vitamin D and allergy-related diseases like asthma and eczema. But is vitamin D also involved in how chronic hives develop and how you can treat them?
When you have chronic hives, white blood cells called mast cells release histamine and other chemicals. This process causes inflammation that results in the welts and painful swelling of hives.
The link between vitamin D and chronic hives
Researchers think vitamin D helps to stabilize mast cells. And several studies show people with chronic hives are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. One review found that anywhere from around 35 to 90 percent of people with chronic hives lack vitamin D.1,2
Research is still ongoing into the role of vitamin D in chronic hives.
What research shows about vitamin D supplements for chronic hives
There is limited research on treating chronic hives with vitamin D, but study results are promising.
A review from 2018 looked at more than a dozen studies on the topic. In 7 of those studies, people with chronic hives received vitamin D supplements for 1 to 3 months. The supplemental amount ranged from 2,800 to 140,000 international units (IU) per week. Those who received high doses of vitamin D saw a significant improvement in their chronic hives symptoms. Lower doses seemed to have less or no effect.1
In another study, people with a vitamin D deficiency also had fewer chronic hives symptoms after receiving supplements. Studies also show that vitamin D may amplify the anti-inflammatory effects of corticosteroids, a treatment for chronic hives.2
Sources of vitamin D
Around the world, anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of people do not get enough vitamin D. Besides being linked to certain skin conditions, a lack of vitamin D may also lead to osteoporosis. Researchers are also studying the connection between vitamin D and other illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.1,3
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin.” When your skin absorbs ultraviolet (UV) B from the sun, the UVB helps your body produce vitamin D. Keep in mind, though, that your skin has a set amount of vitamin D it can make at one time. And too much sun will put you at risk for skin cancer and early skin aging.1,4
Vitamin D is found in a wide range of foods including:1,2,5
- Oily fish (anchovies, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and others)
- Egg yolks
- Shiitake and button mushrooms
- Fortified milk
- Beef liver
On its own, food is unlikely to supply all of the vitamin D your body needs. You will need to make up the gap with other sources.
Supplements are another way to boost your vitamin D2 and D3 levels. Most adults need 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D a day. Vitamin D2 may not work as well to raise your total vitamin D levels, but when you take it in high doses, it is safer than vitamin D3.1
You likely will not have any side effects from taking the suggested amount of vitamin D. Still, talk to your doctor before starting vitamin D therapy.
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