Getting adequate amount of vitamin D prevents harmful inflammation

ADELAIDE, Australia — Are your inflammation markers usually high when it comes to your routine blood work? New research out of Australia finds you may want to spend more time in the sun and soak in more vitamin D.

A little bit of inflammation is integral to the human body’s natural healing process. Chronic inflammation, however, can actually have the opposite effect. Constantly high levels increase one’s risk of various serious diseases including but not limited to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and various autoimmune conditions. Now, a study by scientists at the University of South Australia reports a direct link between low levels of vitamin D and high levels of inflammation.

This is the world’s first ever genetic research project to focus on this topic. Study authors believe their work establishes an invaluable biomarker for identifying individuals at a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component.

The research team used Mendelian randomization on the genetic data of 294 ,970 participants enrolled in the UK Biobank project. That analysis revealed a clear association between vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels, considered an indicator of inflammation.

All in all, study authors conclude that getting more vitamin D among people with a deficiency may reduce chronic inflammation.

More vitamin D for less C-reactive protein

“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection,” lead researcher Dr. Ang Zhou says in a press release. “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,” he adds. “Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases.”

It’s also worth mentioning that this project indicates adequate vitamin D concentrations may help mitigate complications linked to obesity. Healthy levels also lower one’s risk or severity of chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component (CVDs, diabetes, autoimmune diseases).

Professor Elina Hyppönen, senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, adds that this works provides at least a partial explanation for some of the contradictions in reported associations with vitamin D.

“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. Hyppönen concludes. “These findings highlight the importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D deficiency, and provide further evidence for the wide-ranging effects of hormonal vitamin D.”

The study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. 

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