According to a new study published this month in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers discovered that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of a relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC).
The role of vitamin D in autoimmunity and disease severity is well known; however, it has been unknown if it contributes to disease relapses and unclear if the flare-up was lowering vitamin D levels or if low vitamin D levels were causing the flare-up.
In this study researchers investigated vitamin D levels when UC was in remission and then followed patients at that point forward to further determine this connection. The research team measured vitamin D levels of 70 patients with UC in remission as well as levels of inflammation. They then followed these patients for one year and compared the data from those who remained in remission and those who experienced relapses. As a result, those who had vitamin D levels greater than 35 ng/ml while in remission had a decreased risk of a relapse.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system is tricked into thinking that self is foreign and starts attacking itself. As a result, the immune system makes antibodies that attack various tissues in the body.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease, with studies finding a higher prevalence of these diseases in those who are deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps autoimmune disorders by regulating T cells in the immune system. This makes the body more tolerant of itself and less likely to mount autoimmune responses. The severity of Crohn’s disease is linked to the lowest vitamin D levels.
There is plenty of evidence regarding the benefit of vitamin D supplementation with regards to a multitude of health benefits, not just with autoimmune disorders. Given the fact that supplementation of vitamin D in its natural form is harmless and inexpensive, many more patients should get their vitamin D levels checked regularly and supplement accordingly.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
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Source: John Gubatan, Shuji Mitsuhashi, Talia Zenlea, Laura Rosenberg, Simon Robson, Alan C. Moss. Low Serum Vitamin D During Remission Increases Risk of Clinical Relapse in Patients With Ulcerative Colitis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2017; 15 (2): 240 DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.05.035