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
The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (Zhou & Hypponen, 2022).
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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
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