Anyone who suffers from frequent sinus infections knows how painful and annoying they can be. A number of factors can increase your susceptibility to sinus infections, including immune system disorders, frequent exposure to pollutants and allergies. A limited amount of evidence has linked low levels of vitamin D to respiratory tract infections, including sinusitis. Vitamin D supplementation may help prevent sinus infections and maintain a healthy immune system. Consult your doctor before using any dietary supplements.
Sinus infections, also referred to as sinusitis, can occur in two forms. Acute sinusitis is a temporary infection that typically occurs as a result of complications due to the common cold. It can also be triggered by bacteria or exposure to allergens. Acute sinusitis generally goes away on its own with the use of self-care measures like getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated and using steam treatments, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes you may require an antibiotic or another medication to help alleviate your symptoms. If your condition doesn't improve despite your efforts, or lasts for more than 12 weeks, you may have chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis has similar symptoms to acute sinusitis, but lasts longer and tends to cause fatigue.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is often referred to as the "sunshine" vitamin because your body makes it in response to sunlight exposure. You can also obtain vitamin D from foods like milk, certain types of fish and fortified cereals. Vitamin D helps build bones and teeth, helps maintain proper immune system function and assists with calcium absorption. According to research published in the 2010 issue of the journal "Nature Immunology," vitamin D is necessary for activation of your body's T cells, the cells that are responsible for fighting infections. Without enough vitamin D, you may have an increased likelihood of a compromised immune system, which can lead to frequent infections. In an article for his website, NYCAllergyDoctor.com, immunologist Arthur Lubitz reports that vitamin D may help prevent viral sinus infections.
The results of a study published in the September 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found a link between low serum levels of vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infections, including sinusitis, in young Finnish male study participants. However, as of 2011, no studies have confirmed the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for sinus infections. A clinical review published in 2010 in the "Journal of Laryngology and Otology" reports that while vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections, "optimal vitamin D levels and appropriate dosing schedules have yet to be determined."
While vitamin D may help prevent sinus infections, you should not use vitamin supplements to self-treat your symptoms. Do not attempt to self-diagnose your symptoms. If you suffer from frequent or chronic sinus infections, consult your doctor. Vitamin D supplements can interact with certain medications, such as corticosteroid medication, the weight-loss drug orlistat and the cholesterol-lowering drug cholestyramine, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Inform your doctor if you choose to use a vitamin D supplement, especially if you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications, or have a medical condition.
- "Nature Immunology"; Vitamin D Controls T Cell Antigen Receptor Signaling and Activation of Human T Cells; M. von Essen, et al.; 2010
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; An Association of Serum Vitamin D Concentrations < 40 nmol/L with Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in Young Finnish Men; I. Laaksi et al.; September 2007
- "Journal of Laryngology and Otology"; Vitamin D, Innate Immunity and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection; J. Bartley; 2010
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D