Vitamin D supplements may help reduce chronic inflammation, study finds

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Scientists have found a link between inflammation and vitamin D levels. ohlamour studio/Stocksy
  • The researchers investigated the effects of vitamin D on systemic low-grade inflammation.
  • They found that vitamin D deficiency leads to higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers.
  • They concluded that improving vitamin D status among deficient patients could reduce the risk or severity of chronic diseases with inflammatory components.

Low-grade systemic inflammation is characterized by the prolonged release of inflammatory molecules and is linked to different health conditions.

While vitamin D is classically known to regulate calcium levels, recently studies have shown that it may also play a role in modulating the body’s inflammatory response.

For example, research has linked vitamin D blood concentrations to levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used inflammatory biomarker.

However, it is still unknown whether low vitamin D levels increase CRP levels, as was shown in the randomized essays.

Recently, researchers examined the evidence for whether vitamin D levels influence CRP levels in a new study.

The researchers reported a direct link between low levels of vitamin D and higher levels of CRP. They say their findings could provide an important biomarker for identifying people at risk for inflammatory diseases.

“There is growing evidence that improving vitamin D status reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” he said. said Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine at Boston University. This was said by the Faculty of Medicine, which was not involved in the study Today’s Medical News.

“This is also consistent with the recent observation of the VITAL trial which reported that those adults who took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for up to 5 years reduced the risk of all autoimmune disorders by 22% compared to the placebo group,” he added.

The study was published in International Journal of Epidemiology.

For the study, the researchers examined data from 294,970 unrelated people of white-British ancestry from the UK Biobank.

Health data included serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D-, a standard measure of vitamin D, and CRP concentrations along with genetic data.

The median 25(OH)D concentration was 50 nmol/L, while 11.7% had concentrations below this deficiency threshold of 25 nmol/L.

Participants also filled out questionnaires with information about their health and lifestyles.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found among the participants that only those who were vitamin D deficient had elevated CRP levels.

They also found that increasing vitamin D levels among deficient patients can help mitigate the severity of inflammation.

The researchers noted that this supports a previously proposed threshold effect, suggesting that correcting vitamin D deficiency can reduce low-grade inflammation and potentially mitigate the risk of inflammation-related diseases.

The researchers further noted that genetically predicted CRP concentration did not appear to affect vitamin D levels in both linear and non-linear statistical analyses.

When asked how vitamin D levels might influence inflammation levels, Dr Elina Hypponen, professor of nutritional epidemiology and genetics at the University of South Australia, one of the study’s authors, said. MNT:

“In cell and animal experiments, the hormone vitamin D inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-12 (IL-12).”

In the paper, the researchers noted that vitamin D could also promote the production of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine.

Dr. Bruce Hollis, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, who was not involved in the study, agreed with Professor Hypponen, noting that “these are known vitamin D checkpoints at the cell level. cellular”.

“To say that vitamin D is an important immune regulator is an understatement,” he said MNT.

The researchers concluded that improving vitamin D status in the deficient range could reduce low-grade systemic inflammation and potentially mitigate the risk of inflammation-related conditions.

When asked about the limitations of the study, Professor Hypponen noted that his study only investigated the effects of vitamin D on CRP and cannot be used to confirm the mechanisms underlying the link.

When asked about the study’s limitations, Dr. Nik Tsotakos, assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the study, said MNT:

“The study is very well done and it’s important to note that the data comes from a cohort of hundreds of thousands of individuals. The limitation I can point to in the study is that inflammation was determined solely by CRP levels that , despite being a sensitive marker, is not specific.”

He noted that more is needed at the molecular, cellular and tissue level to understand how vitamin D levels are related to autoimmune disorders.

Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, who was also not involved in the study, emphasized that the effects of vitamin D are an “area of ​​ongoing controversy.”

“In fact, even the purported bone-enhancing properties of vitamin D were called into question by a recent large study of more than 25,000 people followed for more than 5 years that showed no reduction in fracture risk when taking the vitamin D. So what should we conclude? A recent study showing an association between lower levels of vitamin D and higher levels of the inflammation marker c-reactive protein? Probably not much,” he said MNT.

That, Dr. Cutler said, is because association is not the same as causation.

For example, he noted that low vitamin D levels among COVID patients may not mean that low vitamin D levels alone increase the risk of COVID-19. He said this is because people who are generally sick, stay indoors and get sick from COVID-19 are less likely to be exposed to sunlight, which could boost their vitamin D .

He also noted that there is some uncertainty around defining what constitutes low vitamin D, as “there has been no direct attribution of the harmful effects of vitamin D between 20 and 30.”

“Clearly, profound vitamin D deficiency can lead to abnormal bone formation (rickets) in children and osteoporosis in adults. However, subtle deficiencies, although associated with many conditions, have never been shown to cause directly or contribute to any disease,” he said.

“Supplementation of infant food, cereals and cow’s milk, has virtually eliminated rickets, while osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly have had minimal, if any, impact from vitamin supplementation D. And there’s always the risk that too much vitamin D will cause kidney damage and bone pain.”
— Dr. David Cutler

When asked if it might be important for people to test for clinical vitamin D deficiency before taking supplements, Dr. Hollis shared his own recommendation:

“I would recommend taking a vitamin D supplement daily. Personally, I recommend a circulating 25(OH)D level of 50 ng/ml. Again, I personally take a 10,000 IU/day supplement, as does my entire family , and we’ve had no problem doing it for the past 15 years. You can do a blood test, but taking the supplement is easy and safe.”

Dr. Tsotakos noted, however, “There is little or no benefit in terms of CRP levels from vitamin D supplementation for people who have serum 25(OH)D greater than 30 nmol/L, which is l ‘lower end of the reference range. . . This means that people who are clinically deficient are more likely to benefit from vitamin D supplementation.’

“Typically, over-the-counter vitamin D supplements contain relatively low doses that are generally very safe. That said, supplements are often taken by people who don’t really need them, as would be the case with most people living a active lifestyle during the summer,” added Dr. Hypponnen.

When in doubt, a blood test can help show if you have a deficiency.

“From late fall to late spring, it can be helpful to take some extra vitamin D. Although for safety reasons blood tests are usually not required when taking the type of doses recommended in public health guidelines, if you want to make sure you are not taking supplements for no benefit, a blood test will help.”
— Dr. Elina Hypponen

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