Low vitamin D may be a possible cause

  • Chronic inflammation is linked to inflammation-related health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Elevated inflammatory biomarkers in the blood such as C-reactive protein can be an indicator of chronic inflammation.
  • A new study has found a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and high C-reactive protein.
  • Researchers suggest that for people with vitamin D deficiency, improving vitamin D levels can reduce chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is the activation of the body’s immune cells in response to injury or infection.

In the short term, inflammation is necessary for proper healing. However, when it persists, it can contribute to the development of inflammation-related health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others.

Chronic inflammation it can result from ongoing infections, exposure to irritants, and autoimmune disorders. But other factors such as age, stress and diet can also play a role. Identifying chronic inflammation can be difficult, but specific inflammatory biomarkers in the blood can indicate its presence. One of which is C reactive protein (CRP).

According to 2021 research, vitamin D has been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, and deficiencies in this nutrient can contribute to chronic inflammation.

However, the association between vitamin D and CRP is unclear. Although previous studies published in 2015 i 2020 investigated the influence of vitamin D on CRP, found no evidence to support a causal effect.

However, new genetic research from the University of South Australia, recently published in International Journal of Epidemiology, found an association between low levels of vitamin D and elevated CRP in the blood. This finding leads researchers to suggest that increasing vitamin D in deficient individuals may reduce chronic inflammation.

To conduct the study, the scientists recruited 294,970 participants from the UK Biobank who self-identified as having white British ancestry. They then analyzed the participants’ active serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels They also had participants fill out health and lifestyle questionnaires and obtain blood samples for biomarker and genetic assessments.

Using linear and non-linear Mendelian randomization (MR), the researchers looked for associations between serum 25(OH)D and CRP.

The researchers found a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and elevated CRP in the blood. Specifically, a one-way relationship, meaning vitamin D can be a driver of CRP levels, but not the other way around.

However, the researchers also found that only study participants with low serum 25(OH)D concentrations had elevated serum CRP. This suggests that the anti-inflammatory benefits of improving vitamin D levels are limited to people with deficiencies.

“We have repeatedly seen evidence of the health benefits of increasing vitamin D concentrations in individuals with very low levels, while for others, there appears to be little or no benefit,” said the study’s author Elina Hyppönen, PhD, Professor and Director, University of Australia. from the Australian Center for Precision Health, in a press release.

Hyppönen explained that vitamin D is a hormone precursor that inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-12 (IL-12).

“In doing so, it acts to modify immune responses so that T-cell polarization shifts away from an inflammatory-type response (Th1) to the production of more protective T-cell phenotypes (Th2 and regulatory T cells),” Hyppönen said. Health line

According to the study, these actions can help reduce inflammation, thereby reducing the risk or severity of many chronic diseases.

The study data also indicate that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is around 40% in some European counties.

Therefore, the authors suggest that increasing the population’s consumption of vitamin D by adding it to high-consumption food products could be a cost-effective way to reduce chronic diseases.

Although the research found an association between vitamin D and CRP, it also had some limitations. For example, the participants were individuals of White-British descent. Therefore, it is not known whether these results transfer to people from other racial or ethnic groups.

Furthermore, CRP is not the only biomarker involved in inflammation. Other biomarkers may also indicate an inflammatory response, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Scientists say further research should examine these biomarkers to fully understand vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory effects.

“For many of the diseases and influences, evidence of causality [is] remains to be established, and we need to further study the effects on hard outcomes such as mortality risk,” Hyppönen said. “It also appears that prevention of severe vitamin D deficiency is the key for many of the possible benefits, and we need to develop efficient strategies to target and treat those people who need it.”

According to experts, vitamin D deficiency is when the serum levels of 25(OH)D in the blood are less than 20 ng/mL. Serum levels of 20-30 ng/ml are considered insufficient.

“Vitamin D deficiency can manifest itself in a number of ways, including muscle pain, weakness, depression, poor bone health and fatigue,” Iza Correll, MD, an associate physician and founder of OVI Healthcare, told Healthline.

Correll added that it’s critical to correctly diagnose vitamin D deficiency because the treatment plan can vary depending on the severity.

“If a deficiency is suspected, your doctor will likely order a blood test to measure the level of vitamin D in your blood. The most common diagnostic test for vitamin D deficiency is a blood test to measure the level of of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood,” he explained.

As for treatments, Correll noted that “treatment for vitamin D deficiency usually involves taking supplements or, most importantly, increasing exposure to sunlight to a minimum of 10 minutes daily.”

“Most people with vitamin D deficiency need between 400 and 800 IU of vitamin D per day to bring their levels back to normal. Your doctor may also recommend increasing your intake of vitamin D-rich foods, such as fatty fish, eggs and milk or fortified cereals,” he added.

Chronic inflammation is believed to be a factor in many health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, among others.

The latest research suggests that vitamin D may help reduce chronic inflammation, but only in people with vitamin D deficiency.

Preventing and treating vitamin D deficiency involves making sure you get an adequate but safe amount of sunlight exposure and eating foods rich in vitamin D. Supplementing with adequate amounts of this essential nutrient can also help to reduce the possibility of being deficient.

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