By Mike Spencer
Founder of Meniere’s Help
Researcher and writer of Managing Meniere’s Disease and The Need for Balance
Table of Contents
Vitamin D and Meniere’s Disease – What you should know
While all essential vitamins and minerals are important for a healthy functioning, balanced body, some vitamins are better known for their value to the immune system and some vitamins are known to help suppress the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
Vitamin C, B12 and Magnesium are relatively well known for their benefits to ear function and Meniere’s but what about Vitamin D and Meniere’s disease?
According to studies cited on Mercola.com there is a robust and rapidly growing body of research clearly showing that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention, in part due to the fact that it influences about 10 percent of all your genes.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D upregulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. The whole concept behind using quality dietary supplements for Meniere’s disease is to support the immune system enough for it to deal with the inflammation causing Meniere’s symptoms.
So vitamin D would appear to be an important part of that.
It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Vitamin D is more than just one vitamin. It’s actually a family of nutrients that share similarities in chemical structure.
Sources of Vitamin D
In your diet, the most commonly found members are vitamin D2 and D3. The difference between D2 and D3 is, Vitamin D3 is found in food from animals while Vitamin D2 comes from plant derived foods. The best sources of Vitamin D3 is exposure to sunlight.
So if you are a vegan or living in areas that have little sunlight in winter you run a risk of vitamin D3 deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin D3:
- Oily fish and fish oil
- Egg yolk
- Dietary supplements
- Exposure to sunlight
Sources of Vitamin D2
- Mushrooms (grown in UV light)
- Fortified foods
- Dietary supplements
Focus on Vitamin D has only really taken off in the last 20 years. In this time, newer and more accessible technology has shown that Vitamin D deficiency is widespread.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 32% of children and adults throughout the US were vitamin D deficient
- The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 50% of children aged one to five years old, and 70% of children between the ages of 6 and 11, are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D
- Researcher Dr. Holick estimates that 50% of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency
- In 2015 the WHO reported that Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a widespread public health problem globally
A strong, healthy immune system means less inflammation and less inflammation means less chance of developing the symptoms of Meniere’s disease, or any other disease.
It is widely thought that vitamin D plays an important role in the modulation of the inflammation system by regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines and immune cells, which are crucial for the pathogenesis of many immune-related diseases.
Vitamin D studies
In a study published in The Journal of Immunology in 2012 ‘How vitamin D inhibits inflammation‘ it wrote:
“Vitamin D has long been known to contribute to bone health by promoting the absorption of calcium. In recent years, much attention has been paid to its possible immune and inflammatory benefits. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with several diseases including asthma, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
This study goes beyond previous associations of vitamin D with various health outcomes. It outlines a clear chain of cellular events, from the binding of DNA, through a specific signaling pathway, to the reduction of proteins known to trigger inflammation. Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, arthritis and prostate cancer, who are vitamin D deficient, may benefit from vitamin D supplementation to get their serum vitamin D levels above 30 nanograms/milliliter”
Vitamin D also help control immune responses though cellular communication. Receptors for vitamin D are found on most types of immune cells. When vitamin D binds to cellular receptors, it sends messages to help support many different natural responses that can help keep you healthy. Sometimes, those responses can include turning on production of even more active vitamin D to increase levels right where and when it’s needed.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble—meaning that the fat in your body is how you collect and store it. So, if you’re overweight, it may mean you need more of it.
According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Investigative Medicine: “It is now clear that vitamin D has important roles in addition to its classic effects on calcium and bone homeostasis. As the vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells (B cells, T cells and antigen presenting cells) and these immunologic cells are all are capable of synthesizing the active vitamin D metabolite, vitamin D has the capability of acting in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic milieu.
Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. As immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D, the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond the effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.“
Can Vitamin D help reduce the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease
A 2018 paper published on NIH, ‘Vitamin D supplementation may improve symptoms in Meniere’s disease’ states: “In the last 4 years the authors observed a trend that correcting vitamin D deficiency in newly diagnosed cases of Meniere’s disease decreased the necessity of the ablative therapy with intratympanic gentamicin. According to their hypothesis, vitamin D supplementation may indeed have a beneficial effect in Meniere’s disease if the symptoms are caused by a local postviral autoimmune reaction. Vitamin D has a strong immunomodulatory role, one of which is the regulation of the expression of pro-inflammatory mediators”
According to study published in August 2020 in ‘Neurology’ “Taking vitamin D and calcium twice a day may reduce your chances of getting vertigo”
A 2016 case study in the Caspian Journal of internal Medicine stated that, “This study indicates that the normalization of serum vitamin D significantly reduces BPPV recurrences.”
In 1983 The Journal of Laryngology and Otology published a study: ‘Vitamin D deficiency–a new cause of cochlear deafness’. It stated, “Ten patients are reported with bilateral cochlear deafness which was associated with vitamin D deficiency. The features of these cases are discussed following an overview of the clinical aspects and diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency.
The most likely pathogenesis is localized demineralization of the cochlea resulting in secondary morphological changes. Replacement therapy resulted in unilateral hearing improvement in two of the four patients in whom the response to treatment could be assessed.
This suggests a previously unrecognized causal correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cochlear deafness. Impaired vitamin D activity may be important in the aetiology of otosclerosis, presbyacusis and the deafness associated with chronic renal failure. Vitamin D deficiency should be considered in the differential diagnosis of unexplained bilateral cochlear deafness. It is important, as this ‘new’ metabolic type of sensorineural deafness may be reversible, and may also lead to the diagnosis of early osteomalacia before more serious generalized skeletal symptoms can occur.”
It would appear that Vitamin D is an important nutrient related to ear health, vertigo, deafness and tinnitus.
It is important to note that if you supplement vitamin D, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the correct areas in your body. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the consequences similar to vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries. The reason for this is because when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins that move calcium around in your body.
Without vitamin K2, those proteins remain inactivated, so the benefits of those proteins remain unrealized. So remember, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2.
This may have added significance for Vitamin D and Meniere’s disease as it has been suggested that excess vitamin D without K can cause tinnitus.
Would you consider yourself overweight? Studies suggest that obesity can cause issues with vitamin D deficiency regardless of intake from diet or exposure to sunlight.
Dr. Paulette Chandler, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “Our study highlights that obesity may confer resistance to vitamin D effects.
Chandler is a co-author of the study, ‘Vitamin D reduces risk for metastatic cancer, death by 17%‘ published on the JAMA network in November 2020.
The fact that the more obese you are the less effective vitamin D is utilized in your body has been pointed out in other previous studies. The 2017 study ‘Vitamin D in Obesity‘ pointed out:
“Serum vitamin D is lower in obese people; it is important to understand the mechanism of this effect and whether it indicates clinically significant deficiency … Vitamin D is fat soluble, and distributed into fat, muscle, liver, and serum.
All of these compartments are increased in volume in obesity, so the lower vitamin D likely reflects a volumetric dilution effect and whole body stores of vitamin D may be adequate … Obese people need higher loading doses of vitamin D to achieve the same serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D as normal weight.“
The 2013 study ‘Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status‘ found that for every 10% increase in body-mass index, there’s a 4.2% reduction in blood levels of vitamin D. According to the authors of that particular study, obesity may in fact be a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency.
Considering all of the above information, if you are overweight, have a deficiency in vitamin D and Meniere’s disease, this factor could be even more significant for you to consider.
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References/Further reading: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29857909/