Allergies can be a real pain. Whether you’re allergic to pollen, food, or fur, allergy symptoms can put a downer on your day, and reduce your quality of life. But, the good news is there is a lot you can do to manage allergies, through a combination of nutritional interventions and specific supplements. Let’s find out the best supplements for allergies.
- Supplements such as quercetin, vitamin C, and vitamin D can help to reduce allergy symptoms.
- Quercetin is a flavonoid that can help to block the release of histamine, a chemical that causes allergy symptoms.
- Vitamin C and vitamin D can help to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, which can also help to improve allergy symptoms.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies occur when your body overreacts to the proteins in pollen, food, or other allergens. Here, it mistakes specific proteins within allergens as a threat – which leads to a sometimes severe immune response.
Allergies can be mild – extreme, and in the worst case, can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Many allergies can be approached from a nutritional standpoint – either to prevent allergies from occurring or to reduce the impact of the symptoms.
The Connection Between Nutrition And Allergies
Nutrition has a close relationship with allergies. Firstly, there is now emerging evidence indicating that if children are exposed to potential allergens at the appropriate age, they may be able to reduce their risk of developing full-blown allergies later in life.
Similarly, we know that children with eczema are at an increased risk of food allergy. Because eczema can be linked to a disrupted gut microbiome, it’s well worth optimizing gut health where possible, to try and mitigate this risk.
Studies have also shown that people growing up in an overly sterile environment, coupled with antibiotic overuse, can be more susceptible to allergies due to an impaired gut microbiome.
Nutrition is also closely linked to allergy severity because it can directly impact your inflammatory response, your histamine levels, and your immune system.
By optimizing your diet, you can enhance the functioning of your immune system to ensure it doesn’t underreact, or overreact. You can also reduce the intensity of inflammation – which left unchecked can result in a more extreme allergic reaction.
And, by restoring the health of your gut environment you can reduce allergy intensity, and help to manage symptoms of hay fever, a common pollen allergy.
Vitamins And Minerals Beneficial For Allergies
Your immune system needs certain nutrients to function well. Whilst you can’t ‘boost’ your immunity, as many supplements claim – you can ensure your immune system has everything it needs to do its job.
Because deficiencies in certain nutrients can lead to issues with white blood cell formation and can reduce the efficacy of your immune system response.
Below are a few key nutrients that can influence your immune system positively and reduce the severity and symptoms of your allergies.
You are probably well aware of Vitamin C’s immune-supportive properties – as it’s always suggested as a remedy to coughs and colds.
With allergies, Vitamin C can help to reduce the inflammatory pathways that worsen symptoms as well as reduce histamine levels. So with Vitamin C, you’re getting both a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory in one.
Vitamin C can reduce swelling, inflammation, and symptoms at the site of the allergic reaction, for example, the eyes or nose. While Vitamin C doesn’t directly block histamine production in the way that pharmaceutical antihistamines do, instead, it reduces the amount of histamine produced, which in turn eases symptoms. (Source)
The best results for Vitamin C and allergies appear to result from high-dose intravenous injections, but, there is still a good result for oral or topical (nasal) applications. (Source)
So, taking Vitamin C as part of your anti-allergy regime is a good idea, as well as increasing your intake of Vitamin C-rich foods such as strawberries and red pepper.
When Quercetin is used in test tube experiments, it reduces the amount of histamine the immune cells produce, thereby potentially improving allergy symptoms during an attack.
Studies also show that Quercitin can reduce inflammation in the airways, which can be useful if your allergies tend to affect your respiratory tract too. (Source)
Quercetin is found naturally in foods such as apples, but many people prefer to take a more concentrated dose via a supplement in the run-up to allergy season or during an acute attack.
Vitamin D is essential for our health. Not only does it help to strengthen our bones, reduce the severity of respiratory infections, and ward off depression, but this key vitamin also helps us with allergy management.
Vitamin D essentially modulates the immune system to prevent overblown inflammatory cascades which can worsen symptoms during both allergies and illnesses.
Having sufficient Vitamin D levels means you are less likely to have more severe allergic reactions – with reduced inflammation, mucus secretion, and airway hyperreaction. (Source)
Because we cannot get enough Vitamin D in the northern hemisphere, everyone must supplement during winter months.
But, if your doctor establishes you have a deficiency (because you don’t spend much time outside in the summer months) or you have allergies, you may prefer to supplement year-round if safe to do so.
While Vitamin C gets all the praise for its immune-supporting role, zinc is just as important where immunity and allergies are concerned.
Zinc works together with Vitamin C for immune function and potential allergy relief. This is because zinc is required for the functioning of special cells that initiate an immune response when a threat is detected.
Interestingly, people with certain allergies, such as hay fever, have been found to have low levels of zinc – which suggests such individuals could benefit from supplementation with this key mineral. (Source)
And, as a bonus when cold and flu season comes around – zinc has been shown to shorten the length of viral illnesses such as the common cold too.
Magnesium is known for its relaxing properties – it can reduce anxiety, and physical tension and improve sleep. But, magnesium can also counteract the bronchoconstriction effect of allergies which can affect the respiratory system during a flare-up. (Source)
This can help you to breathe easier and reduce the risk of asthma if you are prone to this chronic condition too.
Similarly, low blood levels of magnesium have been linked to higher histamine release – suggesting that supplementary magnesium can be a useful tool in your holistic allergy management plan.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It can be easy to overlook this essential fatty acid when you consider allergy management strategies, but it’s a really valuable tool due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that cultures that consume the least amount of fish oils tend to have higher allergy risks. This is likely because allergies and inflammation go hand in hand, so by reducing inflammation you can reduce the severity of allergic reactions too. (Source)
So incorporating a couple of portions of fish, alongside a good quality DHA or EHA omega 3 supplement can be a great way to reduce systemic inflammation and lower allergy risk/ severity.
Probiotics And Allergies
10% OFF with code:
We’ve talked about how antibiotic overuse is associated with an increased allergy risk, and this is due to the significance of a balanced gut flora.
Firstly, a big part of your immune response stems from the gut, so keeping a balanced microbiome can promote the strength of your immune response.
Studies have shown that probiotic supplements may act as a therapeutic treatment for those with allergies as they can create a more balanced and healthy gut environment, which in turn enhances immune responses, and reduces inflammation.
Herbal Supplements And Allergies
In addition to the nutrients mentioned above, several herbal supplements are showing real promise for the management of allergic symptoms.
A few of the key ones are listed below:
Butterbur is a type of medicinal marsh plant, used to treat a variety of ailments. In particular, it appears useful for nasal allergies such as hay fever.
Its effectiveness is comparable to certain antihistamine drugs, making it a great natural alternative when managing histamine levels.
There’s evidence to show a reduction in allergy symptoms can occur within just one week of starting Butterbur supplements, showing just how fast-acting this natural remedy can be. (Source)
Its effectiveness is comparable to certain antihistamine drugs.
Stinging nettles have long been used to reduce allergy symptoms. In fact, in one study, half of the people taking nettle leaf supplements believed this natural remedy was as effective as their traditional anti-allergy medication. (Source)
Nettle leaf functions both as a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. This explains why it may be able to reduce symptoms such as sneezing and sniffing.
Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory found in pineapple. One of the reasons this enzyme is so useful for allergies is that it may help with swelling of the nasal area (common during pollen, fur, and dust mite allergies). (Source)
When combined with Querticin, you may gain antihistamine benefits which can reduce sinusitis symptoms and reduce the inflammatory response.
Taking a holistic approach to managing allergies is always best. Once you have taken control of your allergies through a dietary approach, you are likely to see a reduction in symptom severity.
Ideally, for the best results, find a high-quality supplement that combines many of the ingredients listed above.
10% OFF with code:
Supergreen Tonik offers you a nutrient-dense selection of the nutrients and herbs discussed above and is a cost-effective way of managing your allergies.
You will probably find that you may get the best results when you combine your allergy medication with a nutritional approach.
Remember to watch out for serious signs of allergy, and if anaphylaxis is a risk for you – then always keep your epi-pen on hand.
Brenda Peralta is an experienced Registered Dietitian (RDN) and Certified Diabetes Education (CDE). She is a freelance health and nutrition writer based in San Jose, Costa Rica.
She has several certifications in sports nutrition, women’s health hormones, and gut health.