The Vitamin Deficiency Linked To Inflammation And Disease

Low-grade inflammation may be a sign that your body is missing this vitamin.

Low-grade inflammation may be a sign that your body is missing this vitamin.

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to an infection, injury, or disease and is part of the healing process.

However, ongoing low-grade inflammation can contribute to serious disorders such as autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Genetic researchers have now found a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and high levels of an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein.

This protein is made by the liver and released into the blood: elevated levels are an indication of inflammation in the body and serious health conditions.

The study suggests that chronic inflammation could be reduced by improving vitamin D levels in people with a deficiency.

This means vitamin D status can be a key indicator to identify individuals who are more likely to have chronic inflammation associated with severe illnesses.

Getting enough vitamin D

The research team analysed genetic data from nearly 300,000 patients provided by the UK Biobank.

The genetic evidence revealed a direct link between Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and C-reactive protein levels.

They noticed that with increasing vitamin D levels, the C-reactive protein sharply goes down and levelled off when the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level was about 50 nmol/L.

Dr Ang Zhou, the study’s first author, said:

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

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.”

Furthermore, the study suggests that getting enough vitamin D could reduce problems linked to obesity and chronic inflammatory illnesses such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Professor Elina Hyppönen, the study’s senior author, said:

“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.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (Zhou & Hypponen, 2022).

Get FREE email updates to PsyBlog

Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.

This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.

Get FREE email updates to PsyBlog. Join the mailing list.