Researchers investigated the effects of vitamin D on systematic 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 lower their risk or severity of chronic illnesses with inflammatory components
Systematic low-grade inflammation is characterized by the prolonged release of inflammatory molecules and is linkedTrusted Source to various health conditions.
While vitamin D is classically known for regulating calcium levels, recent studiesTrusted Source have shown that it may play a role in modulating the body’s inflammatory response too.
For example, research has linked vitamin D concentrations in the blood with C-reactive protein levels (CRP), a widely used inflammatory biomarker.
However, it remains unknown whether low vitamin D levels increase CRP levels, as demonstrated in randomized trialsTrusted Source.
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 vitamin D levels and higher CRP levels. They say that their findings could provide an important biomarker for identifying people at risk of inflammatory illnesses.
“There is mounting evidence that improvement in vitamin D status reduces risk for autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory disorders such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.
“This is also consistent with the recent observation from the VITAL trialTrusted Source that reported that those adults who took 2000 IUs vitamin D3 daily for up to 5 years reduced risk of all autoimmune disorders by 22% compared to the placebo group,” he added.
The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Low vitamin D, more inflammation
For the study, the researchers examined data from 294,970 unrelated people of White-British ancestry from the U.K. Biobank.
Health data included serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D- or 25(OH)D- levels—a standard measure of vitamin D—and CRP concentrations alongside genetic data.
The average 25(OH)D concentration was 50 nmol/L, while 11.7% had concentrations below that deficiency threshold of 25 nmol/L.
Participants also filled in questionnaires providing information about their health and lifestyles.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found among participants, only those who were vitamin D deficient had elevated CRP levels.
They also found that increasing vitamin D levels among deficient patients may help mitigate the severity of inflammation.
The researchers noted that this supports a previously proposed threshold effect, which suggests that correcting vitamin D deficiency may reduce low-grade inflammation and potentially mitigate the risk for inflammatory-related illness.
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.
Reducing autoimmune risk
When asked how vitamin D levels may influence levels of inflammation, Dr. Elina Hypponen, professor of nutritional and genetic epidemiology at the University of South Australia, one of the study’s authors, told MNT:
“In cellular and animal experiments, the hormonal vitamin D inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-12 (IL-12).”
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