Vitamin D is a vital vitamin that is responsible for maintaining health in various ways in the body. This week’s Nutrition News evaluates two separate recently published studies that further support this and assess the vitamin’s role in keeping us healthy, from warding off hay fever to weight management.

Find out more by reading the full article here.

Can vitamins ease hay fever?

As peak hay fever season approaches, many people who are still recovering from colds or flu may experience exacerbated allergy symptoms due to a weakened immune system. This overreaction of the immune system to allergens can result in more severe hay fever symptoms. Therefore there is likely to be an increased number of people looking for hay fever support.

According to Dr Poonum Wilkhu, a pharmacist working in a prescribing role at a GP surgery in High Wycombe, there has been an increase in the number of people with hay fever in the past month and said that it is essential to check your vitamin D levels if you suffer from severe hay fever. Speaking in The Guardian, Dr Wilkhu said “We have just come out of winter with minimal sun exposure, which means that individuals who have not been supplementing with vitamin D could very well have low levels. Given that vitamin D plays a critical role in supporting your immune system, getting these checked by a clinician could be helpful.”

Few people are aware that hay fever symptoms can be exacerbated by weakened immune systems caused by previous illnesses, and it is wise to check your vitamin D levels to maintain a healthy immune system. Over-the-counter treatments can be beneficial for mild to moderate symptoms, but it is advisable to speak to your healthcare practitioner in cases of moderate to severe symptoms to rule out underlying conditions.

Study shows that vitamin E could offer period pain relief

New research suggests that vitamin E could help alleviate the pain associated with period cramps and pains.

Primary dysmenorrhea (PD), commonly known as period cramps, affects many girls and women around the world and can have a significant impact on wellbeing and their ability to go about their day. According to new research, discussed in this recent article by Health, Vitamin E could offer womens health support in cases where alternatives are either inappropriate or unsuccessful.

PD is often caused by an increase in prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances found in menstrual fluid, therefore one method of lessening the effects of PD is to suppress the production of prostaglandins. It is thought that vitamin E's antioxidants can reduce the pain caused by menstrual cramps by inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid and its conversion to prostaglandin. This vitamin may also reduce the intensity and duration of period pain, limit blood loss, reduce cramping, anxiety, and cravings associated with premenstrual syndrome and regulate menstrual cycles.

It is important to note, however, that in most cases, vitamin E acts as a pain relief method and not a complete removal of pain in PD and that further research into the relationship between nutrition and PD is needed.

Vitamin E can be found in foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, and spinach. As a fat soluble vitamin, which is also the case with vitamins D, A, and K, excess vitamin E can accumulate over time, leading to toxicity so it is important to monitor your intake.

Low prenatal vitamin D levels linked to childhood obesity in boys

A recent study, discussed in News-Medical.Net, explores the relationship between prenatal vitamin D levels and growth and adiposity in children. The study analyzed data from four regions of the Spanish population-based birth cohort, including Valencia, Gipuzkoa, Sabadell, and Menorca covering over 2,020 pregnant women.

The study found that deficient prenatal vitamin D levels were associated with a higher BMI z-score, fat mass percentage and a likelihood of being overweight in boys, while these associations were inconsistent in girls. Boys were more likely to be overweight at seven and 11 years old than girls.

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has been recognised as a public health concern and is considered a modifiable early risk factor for several conditions, including obesity. As discussed in the article, previous studies have reported associations between prenatal vitamin D deficiency and poor fetal outcomes and this latest research gives further evidence to this theory.

The study concludes that prenatal vitamin D levels may be an early-modifiable risk factor for preventing childhood obesity, particularly in boys and illustrates the importance of prenatal and antenatal nutrition. While the study shows an association between maternal prenatal vitamin D levels and the weight of their offspring, it is important to recognise that this does not prove a causal link and that further research is needed.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.