Treating Seasonal Allergies With Vitamin D

Last year, researchers at the Children’s National Medical Center found that children who suffered from asthma and seasonal allergies were 20 times more likely to be Vitamin D deficient than children who didn’t suffer. Likewise, recent study results presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology demonstrated that Vitamin D supplementation helps prevent seasonal allergies and also makes symptoms go away more quickly.

As helpful as these studies are, I’m not a fan of taking nutrients in isolation. That’s not how they’re found in nature, and we’ve amassed plenty of evidence over the last few decades to demonstrate that nutrients don’t work in isolation. Rather, they work synergistically with the other nutrients present in food. When we take individual nutrients in isolation, we often create systemic imbalances in our body.

For example, consuming too much calcium can block iron absorption. Taking iron supplements can block copper absorption. Too much Vitamin C can block your body’s absorption of B-12. Rather than attempting to balance these and other isolated nutrients in a complicated dance of interactions we are only just now beginning to unravel or understand, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply give your body food?

For this reason, I’ve always encouraged people to get their Vitamin D from sun exposure and eating superfoods — those foods which naturally concentrate the nutrients you may be deficient in. Perhaps the best known, but least enjoyed, Vitamin D superfood on the planet is cod liver oil. Unfortunately, not all cod liver oils are created equal.

Until recently, I believed that the only cod liver oil on the market free of synthetic vitamins A & D was Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This wonderful superfood is made using traditional methods and naturally concentrates the vitamins found in cod liver oil through a fermentation process. It’s absolutely amazing stuff, made with integrity by a family in Nebraska, and still the cod liver oil I’d recommend first to anyone who asks.

(where to find fermented cod liver oil)

I took fermented cod liver oil religiously for a long time. I thought I was a pro at taking it. My kids and I had all picked out our favorite flavors.

And then I got pregnant. The smell. Oh my! The smell! It gagged me, made me nauseous. No matter what tricks I tried, I just couldn’t get my pregnant self to swallow the oil. So, I figured I could take the capsules.

But WOW! In order to take enough fermented cod liver oil in capsule form while I was pregnant, I’d have to take 20+ capsules a day. (I don’t remember the math right now, but the number was really that huge.) I did it at first, but then I cringed at the cost. I wasn’t made of money.

High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil to the rescue!

Well, I’ve got good news for those of you who were in my shoes!

If you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative to fermented cod liver oil capsules, consider taking Premier’s Quantum High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil capsules instead. These are the capsules that were recommended by the Weston A Price Foundation for more than a decade.

This completely natural cod liver oil is rich in real (not synthetic) Vitamins A & D, as well as the essential Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Produced without harmful solvents, deodorants, or bleaches, Premier’s Quantum High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil is also regularly tested for mercury, PCBs, and other toxicity. It goes without saying that this oil is free of any toxins.

Sadly, Premier no longer makes these capsules!

The good news is that you can still find these babies if you look hard enough, although they’re almost always in super-limited quantities as retailers sell out the last of their remaining stock.

Where to find Premier’s Quantum High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil

Thankfully, one of my sponsors, Radiant Life, has them in stock. If you want them, though, you have to act quickly. That’s because Radiant Life only has a couple thousand bottles of these capsules left.

When they’re gone, they’ll be gone forever.

(click here to find Quantum High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil from Radiant Life)

(photo by mcfarlandmo)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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53 Responses to Treating Seasonal Allergies With Vitamin D
  1. Renée Gauthier via Facebook
    June 8, 2012 | 12:14 pm

    Larger doses of vitamin C help, too.

  2. Malka Youngstein via Facebook
    June 8, 2012 | 12:16 pm

    Is there a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans?

    • Laura
      June 8, 2012 | 5:53 pm

      Yes, abandon vegetarianism. The healthiest foods on earth are animal foods. Our ancestors knew this.

      • I.N.
        June 10, 2012 | 6:28 am

        *Yes, abandon vegetarianism.*

        And it’s comments like this, indicating an inability to respect somebody else’s ethical stand or diversity of food regimens, that over time turned me off the Weston Price-related crowd. Even though I am still an omnivore myself and I used to really believe in all of this.
        And while we are using anecdotal evidence, for every vegan whose health deteriorated, there are plenty of those who thrive, and for many years – with no vitamin D deficiencies either.

        • Becca
          June 14, 2012 | 5:15 am

          Just want to say great reply! As a first time mom to a 15 month old, I admire yore confidence in replying to other’s… more “harsh” opinions. Im beginning to feel more confident to defend my self, when forced to by others sadly, in the fact that just because “something” is a right choice for one does not mean that it is a right choice for all. And a very awesome news letter all around!

    • KristenM
      June 8, 2012 | 6:19 pm

      Unfortunately, Vitamin D is one of those things found in usable, concentrated form only in animals.

      If you’re unwilling to consume it from an animal source, it is absolutely essential that you get enough sun exposure. If you’re fair skinned, that’s 20 minutes of direct sunlight on all your limbs during the height of the sun in the summer, and 45 minutes to an hour during the winter. (This is just a general rule. It may be different for you based on your body chemistry & skin color.)

    • Jenny
      June 9, 2012 | 9:25 am

      Lots and lot of coconut oil, use it topically too. The body makes it’s own vitamin D ONLY if it has enough saturated fat and cholesterol.

      Personally, I use D3 derived from lanolin (sheep oil)in a coconut oil base.

    • LetiziaPallara
      June 23, 2013 | 6:41 am

      The only vegetable source of vitamin D is the mushroom.

      • Rusty
        April 8, 2014 | 10:06 am

        The vitamin D in mushrooms is D2 which the body can use just like D3 but you need higher doses of D2 to get the same effect as D3. I recently read something fascinating about mushrooms and vitamin D – I still need to look into it more but I read (actually saw in a video) that you can “sun” your mushrooms even after they are picked (and even if you get the store bought kind). A “normal” shiitake mushroom has around 10-15IU of D2 but when sunned can generate 1000′s or 10′s of thousands of IU just like we can generate D3 from the sun. I wrote about it more here: http://www.squidoo.com/vitamindfoods

  3. Melissa Danielle via Facebook
    June 8, 2012 | 12:19 pm

    Yes! I have found this to be extremely helpful – increasing immune system building foods and supplements.

  4. Erin
    June 8, 2012 | 2:32 pm

    So, if I am wanting to order this and am pregnant (I also kind of panicked at the 20 capsules a day thing! the most i have brought myself to take is 5 a day because of the cost), do you know how many capsules a day would equal the recommended dosage by WAPF for pregnant women? i’m trying to figure out how many bottles to buy! Thanks so much!!!

  5. Josefina Da Fonte Hanson via Facebook
    June 8, 2012 | 3:09 pm

    fatty fish like herring and mackerel, lard, duck eggs. the list is long, actually. and always make sure to have adequate calcium and magnesium when upping vitamin D.

  6. Josefina Da Fonte Hanson via Facebook
    June 8, 2012 | 3:11 pm

    oh, another thing I do for allergies is consciously relax my mind, finding my inner peace. that’s actually helped me the most. but of course, sufficient intake of nutrients is crucial.

  7. Brad
    June 9, 2012 | 1:01 am

    What I have found helps many people with hay fever is the use of spirulina supplements.

    The research I’ve read on this seems to be quite positive.

  8. Tom
    June 9, 2012 | 6:04 am

    Hello,

    Cod liver oil contains levels of vitamin A that impair vitamin D metabolism.

    Cod liver oil is no superfood. Recheck your facts.

    Too much vitamin A impairs vitamin D and cod liver oil has too much vitamin A.

    If the superfood does not appear in the Congo where humans evolved for 5-7 million years it will be out of whack with human biology.

    Termites are a good example. Super rich in menaquinone-7 (vitamin K2) which all modern humans are now deficient in. We gave up the superfood of our evolution.

    Many more examples like sulfates which are rich in the Congo.

    Tom

  9. Tammy Lynn via Facebook
    June 9, 2012 | 7:09 am

    Silly question – How do you ferment CLO?

  10. Nancy Flaws Hart via Facebook
    June 9, 2012 | 8:20 am

    This is SO true! I had severe allergies- outdoor kind- since I was about 30. It even started asthma for me! I was miserable- went to my doctor last year- at 45 years old-waited way too long for this one ,and she tested me and said my D levels were WAY too low- I do take supplements now because of it- 5-6000/ day. It has been over a year later, and this spring I hardly noticed anything but a very few sniffles and NO asthma! Now- I did start to take krill oil too 3 years ago and the asthma was weaning off then also- I have read about the Omega 3′s with that too, but this spring was just amazing- next to no allergies at all! :)

  11. Mary
    June 9, 2012 | 10:11 am

    I have heard about all the different supplements causing all of these side effects. I think that if we all listen to the little voice in our heads, we would be the better for it. I do not like to use any kind of medicine. I would rather take a long walk for a headache or sleep off the pain in my body. I also think that eating right should be the first thing for everyone.

    • KristenM
      June 9, 2012 | 10:46 am

      I agree. That’s why I prefer to recommend people eat foods naturally rich in Vitamin D (like cod liver oil) instead of taking supplements.

  12. Kelly
    June 9, 2012 | 11:28 am

    What is the difference between these capsules (High-vitamin, non-fermented) and the fermented CLO and Butter Oil capsules here:(http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Products/ButterCodLiverBlend/index.cfm)? Other than price, what I’ve read is that the combination of CLO and Butter oil makes everything work better together. Any suggestions?

    • KristenM
      June 9, 2012 | 11:36 am

      What you’ve read is right. High Vitamin Butter Oil really works synergistically with CLO. If you can stomach it, taking those two together is definitely the BEST option.

      However, a number of people (like me, when pregnant) really can’t seem to handle the FCLO. Or, they’re VERY budget conscious and the price dissuades them from buying it.

      I wrote what I did for THOSE people, so that they can know they’ve got other good options.

  13. Bette Gorlitz via Facebook
    June 9, 2012 | 12:02 pm

    Yeah, you caught my attention with relieving allergies with vitamin D. You lost me with the cod liver oil. Don’t get me wrong, I would do it. I don’t have allergies. My 17 year old son has allergies and knows karate. LOL Getting him to try it is not happening.

  14. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 9, 2012 | 12:41 pm

    Bette Gorlitz — That’s why I’m recommending the capsules in this post. Because they’re encapsulated, it’s not too different than taking any other pill. Surely your 17 yr old wouldn’t mind that?

  15. Gabriel Alcocer via Facebook
    June 9, 2012 | 3:13 pm

    I find, as a man, I can take advantage of some of these interactions to decrease my iron load from food for instance.

  16. Walter Jeffries
    June 9, 2012 | 3:28 pm

    Could this be a corollary confusion? There have been several studies that show that rural kids, farm kids and Amish kids don’t have as many alergies as those in the urban settings. Perhaps the rural/farm/Amish kids are getting more sunlight but also more exposure to the environment so it might be the Vitamin D is causal or not. Have they controlled for this?

    • KristenM
      June 16, 2012 | 10:21 am

      I honestly don’t know. If I had full access to the studies instead of just summary access, then maybe we could take a look.

      However, given how central Vitamin D is to so many things (and the recent studies that found that 69% of those living in the U.S. are Vitamin D deficient), I think there’s probably something more significant here.

      I don’t think a lack of Vitamin D is the only culprit. Given what we know of gut health and how that affects our body’s histamine response to foods, I’d guess that gut dysbiosis is another key factor.

  17. Henrik
    June 16, 2012 | 5:58 am

    Don’t want to be an *ss, but this sounds to me like a commercial for a product that is limited in stock and is the answer to all our D-vitamin problems. Act now, or they will be gone forever. At least in my mind, warning bells sound when I read stuff like that.

    • KristenM
      June 16, 2012 | 10:23 am

      Nope. The answer to all our Vitamin D problems is sunshine (totally FREE!), followed by fermented cod liver oil. I think I made that pretty clear in the post.

      This is simply what I believe the next best option is for those who can’t stomach the fermented cod liver oil.

  18. Melisa
    June 17, 2012 | 9:47 am

    I upped my kids (8, 5, and 2) vitamin D with supplementing with Vit D3 (trader joes brand). They will not take the FCLO (we’ve tried different flavors). Is this Vit D not doing any good or causing other problems? i also give them Vit C and Omega 3s.

  19. Jen Miller
    May 8, 2013 | 10:35 pm

    I don’t know if anyone will comment back to me since this was originally posted almost a year ago, but here goes –
    I am pregnant and taking FCLO. I also have a 20 month old taking it every day as well. I take 2tsp/day, he takes 1/2tsp/day. We both consume a good amount of butter at breakfast every day to make sure our bodies are able to process the FCLO properly. However, the past week we have had HORRIBLE allergies. I’ve never had allergies like this before. Should I increase our FCLO amounts? I’m already going through it quickly because of the pregnancy. Should I just strive for us to spend a lot more time in the sunshine?

    • Kirstin
      May 9, 2013 | 8:17 am

      I would keep doing what you are doing and maybe add in some nettles (either eating them or making a tea from them). My allergies are super bad this year even though I have upped my FLCO/BO supplement and I spend lots of time outside (which is terrible when all the pollens are out). I starts it add some cups of nettle tea and within 10 min all my allergy symptoms went away. Maybe you could give this a try and hopefully it will help. Nettles are also very nourishing for pregnancy.

      • Jen Miller
        May 9, 2013 | 9:07 am

        Thank you for the response! I will definitely look into that. :)

  20. Martin @ Leaky Gut Research
    May 8, 2013 | 10:56 pm

    Could being naturally low vitamin D after winter be the reason that majority of seasonal allergies are in spring?

  21. LetiziaPallara
    June 23, 2013 | 6:35 am

    The main food source of vitamin D3 is salmon oil, not cod liver oil.
    And salmon contains also omega 3 to fight allergies.

  22. Piper Lindeen via Facebook
    December 18, 2013 | 8:14 pm

    Spend a few minutes in the sun!

  23. Connie Nour Hinkle via Facebook
    December 18, 2013 | 8:25 pm

    I grew up on a farm behind the Iron Curtain and we had 2 rules: wear hats and take cod liver oil in months that have a R in them. Vitamin D is *that* important! You could easily take 20x the USRDA of it and not suffer ill effects because stress its it like candy. I don’t ever remember coming down with the flu, having allergies or being the slightest bit bummed out that we were getting less than 9h of daylight.

    To get enough Vitamin D from the sun, you need to expose 80% of your body (itsy bitsy bikini, the legs and torso being very important) to constant sun for 2h per day. Most people don’t get that much exposure in the summer, yet alone winter.

  24. Eros Bongiovanni via Facebook
    December 18, 2013 | 9:11 pm

    Mercola lamp.

  25. Wendy Cohoon via Facebook
    December 18, 2013 | 10:17 pm

    I try to get outside daily (not so easy in northern Wisconsin) And I started to take cod liver oil capsules

  26. Tiffany Tyler Mason via Facebook
    December 18, 2013 | 11:59 pm

    I’m wondering how pioneer’s got enough Sun with their full clothes and hats and bonnets? Oh how I wish we lived in those simples days of just eating what is grown locally and not stress about each individual nutrient.

  27. Kathleen White Smalley via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 1:39 am

    Get out in the sun……no sunscreen….20 to 30 min it is the best source

  28. UDo Ede via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 6:34 am

    Cod liver Oil, Fish eggs and a holiday in cambodia!

  29. Jay da Medicineman via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 12:33 pm

    Suncreen messes with your sun absorption in a bad way… you folks should look into Sun Gazing. It’s good stuff – contrary to popular belief. Lots of vitamin D going on there.

  30. Laura Wheeler via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 2:11 pm

    SUNLIGHT! The myth that it takes a lot of time outdoors, and with clothes off, is a lovely lie created by the supplement industries. Exposure to the eyes is as effective as skin.

  31. Nat Leighton via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 3:17 pm

    sunlight with clear skies. make sure the evildoers are not spraying that day so you can get the benefits of the sun.

  32. Rosemary Dixon via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 3:40 pm

    Sunshine… Go out in the open. There are more benefits that are psychological too.

  33. Balalah Loblolly Pine via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 4:25 pm

    i vouch for vitamin d3 10,000iu! im around a lot of sick ppl at work and at the first inkling of a cold or sniffle i take about 10 throughout the day and by the next day my body’s going “what sniffle?”

    vitamin c, probiotics and garlic are in my “cootie be gone” arsenal as well

  34. Sage Judy Key Dakota via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 5:07 pm

    I think they are already out of that cod liver oil. It is not listed on their site. What about the Norwegian cod liver oil (liquid) that comes in a lemon flavored variety? I’ve tried it and it seems pretty easy to get down, no weird taste, etc.

  35. Gia Welch via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 5:54 pm

    The ability to absorb from the sun also diminishes as we age and is affected by skin pigment. The darker your skin is, the more difficult it is for the sun to provide enough.

  36. Trish Truitt via Facebook
    December 19, 2013 | 6:41 pm

    Since I’ve gotten my levels up (over 50) I haven’t had a cold or a flu for over 3.5 years. now No flu shots either. When I was ramping up I would sometimes get a sniffle or scratchy throat, but then megadose it (like 20-50k IU and boom, next day I was great. I swear by the stuff.

  37. The Reallyheal Company, LLC via Facebook
    April 11, 2014 | 8:24 am

    100% grass fed dairy, butter, ghee and eggs; 1-2 tsp per day of raw cod liver oil…

  38. Matthew Wesley Howatt via Facebook
    April 11, 2014 | 11:42 am

    nettles are good

  39. Chris Herndon Bade via Facebook
    April 11, 2014 | 3:55 pm

    Kel and Taylour

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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