Will Vitamin D help or hurt you if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance?
If you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you may need to look at Vitamin D!
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. But it is still commonly called a Vitamin, so I’ll use the common term Vitamin D here.
Low Vitamin D is thought to be involved in many immune conditions, including mast cell disorders (Theoharides, 2017).
Vitamin D has many roles in the body. In the context of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, vitamin D:
- stabilizes mast cells
- regulates the immune system
- functions as an anti-inflammatory (Liu, Z.Q, et. al, 2017) (Conti & Kempuraj, 2016).
Wow! This means we really need to be paying attention to Vitamin D. In my practice, I’ve noticed that 90% of people who aren’t supplementing with Vitamin D who have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome have low levels. And even those who are supplementing often aren’t taking enough.
But because Vitamin D is a hormone – we don’t want to guess about this! It is very important to check your levels the right way and find out what you need. Then you need to do follow-up testing to make sure your supplement levels are appropriate for your body.
Mine were actually very low. I had noticed I always felt so much better during a vacation to a sunny location. When I finally got the right Vitamin D testing (doctors kept ordering the wrong one) – I saw it was really low. Supplementing has helped my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance a lot.
Will it help you? Let’s find out! First, you have to check your levels…
Please note, this blog post is for informational purposes. If you have a medical condition, please discuss your Vitamin D levels with your medical provider.
How to check for Vitamin D levels in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
When you go to get your Vitamin D checked, there are 2 options for Vitamin D testing.
Here is the wrong option for checking Vitamin D levels in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance:
Most traditional doctors test Vitamin D with a test called 1,25(OH)₂D also called a Vitamin D 1,25 Dihydroxy (Calcitriol) Blood Test. This test measures active Vitamin D produced in the liver and kidneys.
Sounds good, right? The problem is this test usually shows normal results even if your storage levels of Vitamin D are too low. It is really only useful in severe kidney and parathyroid issues. So, even though this is the one most often ordered, it isn’t likely this test is going to help you! This is a very common and inappropriate misunderstanding among a lot of practitioners.
Why would this be??? The UC Davis Medical School website reports this is because:
“The root causes for inappropriate 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D ordering include:
(a) clinicians not understanding the biological role of 25-OH versus 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, or
(b) 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D showing up as the “first” orderable test on electronic medical record (EMR) systems.”
Sheesh! That’s a pretty big misunderstanding! These kinds of misunderstandings are rampant in Traditional Healthcare, unfortunately. And this is one of the more benign kinds of misunderstanding that happen. They can get much worse.
This is why people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance rarely improve with Traditional Healthcare. One reason is you have to get the right tests. And these aren’t usually ordered.
I could go on a long rant here. But I don’t want to get off topic, so I’ll reign it in for now. Just know you have to strongly advocate for yourself in Traditional Healthcare because that system is badly broken. But, back to Vitamin D…
So, what should you do to accurately check your Vitamin D levels?
Here is the right option for checking Vitamin D levels in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Functional practitioners understand the biological roles of these types of Vitamin D and the different tests. So, Functional practitioners recommend a Vitamin D 25(OH). This is the best way to check your Vitamin D levels. This test is also called D-25-hydroxy or sometimes, calcidiol 25-hydroxycholecalcifoerol.
So, make sure your practitioner is getting this for you. Or if you want to work with me, you’ll be guaranteed to have the right test recommendations.
How to interpret the results of Vitamin D testing in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
So, once you get your Vitamin D 25(OH) test back, you may face another hurdle. The standard lab ranges for deficiency are way too low!! The standard lab range says anything >30 ng/ml is normal.
This simply isn’t true, though. In immune issues like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and also in Histamine Intolerance, you are looking for a range between 60 and 100. That’s double the “normal” lower limit of the labs!
If you know you have VDR genetic variants, you should definitely keep an eye on your Vitamin D25(OH) levels through testing. Even if you do get plenty of sun exposure a day.
So, bottom line: make sure you get the right tests AND it is being reviewed with the appropriate functional ranges.
But what if your levels come back lower than 60…?
What to do if your Vitamin D levels are low and you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
One of the best ways to get Vitamin D is through daily sun exposure, if possible, without burning. This means you have to get at an absolute bare minimum 10 minutes of sun exposure midday without sun screen. This is rarely enough, though. You’ll need closer to 20-30 minute of sun between 10am and 2pm. You need even more time in the sun the darker your skin is.
And you have to get this exposure every day of the year. If you live in a climate with cold winters, getting sun exposure may not be possible year-round.
Unfortunately, many people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome are heat and sun sensitive. So, even if you live in a warm, sunny location, this may still not work for you.
So, what to do???
In these cases, Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary if your Vitamin D levels are low.
But first, don’t use the D2 form. This is a very cheap form of D2 that is the inactive type. It doesn’t convert well and doesn’t do a great job of raising D25OH levels.
You want to supplement with the active form D3. D3 is better absorbed when paired with K2 and taken with food. It is usually taken in the morning.
If you have any kind of clotting or bleeding disorder or take medications for these, you need to talk to your doctor before using K2. If you have significant menstrual clotting, you may not want to take K2 the week of their period.
How much D3 should you supplement when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance?
It really depends on a number of factors:
- What were your D-25(OH) levels?
- How much sun exposure do you get? Can you increase it?
- Do you have osteopenia or osteoporosis?
- Are your minerals balanced?
This means you’ll probably need a functional practitioner to help you figure out your exact dosages. The vast majority of people can safely start with 1,000IUs of D3 per day. This likely won’t be enough, but you could start here until you can check with your practitioner. Or if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you are welcome to book a Mast Cell 360 Case Review with me. I’ll help you sort it out as well as dive deeply into your case.
Now, how do you pick out a Vitamin D Supplement…?
Which Vitamin D brands are good when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance?
Remember how I mentioned before Vitamin D is really a hormone? This is why I insist my clients use a pharmaceutical grade brand. Pharmaceutical grade supplement companies use 3rd party testing to ensure accurate levels. Less reliable brands don’t guarantee the quantity or quality of their supplements. So, you could get 10x what it says on the bottle in a capsule one day and have 0 amount of the supplement in a capsule the next day.
Fortunately, even pharmaceutical grade Vitamin D3 doesn’t cost much more than the cheaper brands. Here are 2 brands I recommend:
Rechecking Your Vitamin D Levels in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Once you’ve been supplementing for 3-6 months, you definitely need to get your Vitamin D levels re-checked.
This is because of 3 reasons:
- You want to make sure you are supplementing with enough Vitamin D to hit the optimal range.
- You want to make sure the Vitamin D you are taking is getting absorbed and working for you.
- You want to make sure you don’t overshoot the optimal range.
It is really better not to guess. I’ve seen people getting sun exposure daily PLUS taking 10,000IUs of Vitamin D still have low levels. That tells me there is an absorption and cofactor issue. Once we fixed those issues, the Vitamin D levels became optimal.
The other reason is that I’ve worked with people who had been put on 5000 IUs, which is usually considered very safe. They hadn’t been rechecked and thought they were fine. When I insisted we re-check the D25(OH) levels, it came back well over 100. They were greatly overshooting the optimal range! Just as too low Vitamin D can be a problem, so can too high.
So, just make sure you are getting it rechecked. Even paying out-of-pocket, it is a cheap test.
Once you hit the optimal range, I recommend rechecking Vitamin D25(OH) once a year.
Bottom Line on Vitamin D in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
- Test your levels with the right test – D25(OH)
- Check your results with the right reference range – you want to be between 60 and 100 (unless you have liver or kidney disease)
- Work with a Functional Practitioner to figure out your optimal dose.
- You can safely start at 1000IU, but will likely need more.
- Only use D3. Take with food in the morning. Take with K2 if you can, for better absorption.
- Only use pharmaceutical brands because this is a hormone. (See brand recommendations above.)
- Retest to make sure your levels are improving and in the optimal range.
If you need help with your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, you are welcome to book a Mast Cell 360 Case Review for a thorough dive into your health issues, get a step-by-step action plan, and start getting results.
References on Vitamin D in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Conti, P., & Kempuraj, D. (2016). Impact of Vitamin D on Mast Cell Activity, Immunity and Inflammation. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 33-39.
Liu, Z.Q, et. al. (2017). Vitamin D contributes to mast cell stabilization. Allergy, 1184-1192.
Theoharides, T. (2017). Vitamin D and Atopy. Clinical Therapeutics, 880-881.
Tran, Nam K. Vitamin D Testing: Is it 25-OH or 1,25-Dihydroxy? Laboratory Best Practice Blog. Accessed 9/5/2019
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