Vitamin D supplements and glass of water sitting on table in sunlight
© Olya Pylypenko

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to chronic inflammation, which can contribute to a wide range of complex diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases

World-first genetic research has highlighted a direct link between low levels of vitamin D, known as a vitamin D deficiency, and high levels of inflammation.

The research, from the University of South Australia, provides an important biomarker to identify people at higher risk of or severity of chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component.

The study examined the genetic data of 294 ,970 participants in the UK Biobank, and using Mendelian randomisation, demonstrated a direct association between vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels, an indicator of inflammation.

Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Ang Zhou, states that the revolutionary findings indicate that boosting the intake of vitamin D in people with a vitamin D deficiency may reduce chronic inflammation.

Increase vitamin D levels to offset chronic inflammation

“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection,” Dr Zhou explains.

“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

“Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases.”

Woman in stripy jumper suffering from chronic inflammation in hands which low vitamin D levels can contribute to
© Piyapong Thongcharoen

Vitamin D reduces risk of obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases

Researchers have also raised the possibility that having adequate vitamin D concentrations may reduce:

  • obesity
  • the severity of chronic illnesses
  • CVDs
  • diabetes
  • autoimmune diseases

Professor Elina Hyppönen, discusses the significance of this study which provides an explanation for some of the controversies in reported associations with vitamin D.

‘The importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D DEFICIENCY

“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.

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


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