Scientists have established a clear relationship between low vitamin D levels and high levels of inflammation, giving an essential biomarker for identifying those who are at higher risk of or have a more severe case of chronic diseases with an inflammatory component.
The study’s findings were published in the journal ‘International Journal of Epidemiology.’ Inflammation is a necessary aspect of the healing process in the body. When it persists, however, it can lead to a variety of complicated disorders such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.
The study examined the genetic data of 294,970 participants in the UK Biobank, using Mendelian randomization to show the association between vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels, an indicator of inflammation.
Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Ang Zhou, said the findings suggest that boosting vitamin D in people with a deficiency may reduce chronic inflammation.
“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection,” Dr Zhou said.
“High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver in response to inflammation, so when your body is experiencing chronic inflammation, it also shows higher levels of C-reactive protein.
“This study examined vitamin D and C-reactive proteins and found a one-way relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high levels of C-reactive protein, expressed as inflammation.
“Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases.”
The study, which was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also suggests that adequate vitamin D concentrations may reduce the risk or severity of chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component, such as CVDs, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Professor Elina Hypponen, senior scientist and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, said the findings are significant and explain some of the concerns around vitamin D relationships.
“We have repeatedly seen evidence for health benefits for increasing vitamin D concentrations in individuals with very low levels, while for others, there appears to be little to no benefit.” Prof Hypponen said.
“These findings highlight the importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D deficiency, and provide further evidence for the wide-ranging effects of hormonal vitamin D.”