Inflammation is actually an essential part of the body’s healing process. However, if it persists, it can contribute to a wide variety of complex diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders.
Now the world’s first genetic research shows a direct link between low levels of vitamin D and high levels of inflammation. This finding provides an important biomarker to identify people at higher risk or severity of chronic diseases with an inflammatory component.
The study, from the University of South Australia (UniSA), examined the genetic data of 294,970 participants in the UK Biobank. It used Mendelian randomization to demonstrate the link between vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels, an indicator of inflammation.
UniSA’s Dr. Ang Zhou, lead researcher, says the findings suggest that boosting vitamin D in deficient people can reduce chronic inflammation.
“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’re injured or have an infection,” says Dr. Zhou.
“High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver in response to inflammation, so when your body experiences chronic inflammation, it also exhibits 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 proteins, expressed as inflammation.
“Boosting vitamin D in deficient people can reduce chronic inflammation, helping them prevent a number of related diseases.”
The study also raises the possibility that having adequate levels of vitamin D may reduce complications from obesity and reduce the risk or severity of chronic diseases with an inflammatory component, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. . The research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Professor Elina Hyppönen, senior researcher and director of UniSA’s Australian Center for Precision Health, says these results are important and explain some of the controversies in reported associations with vitamin D.
“We have seen repeated evidence for health benefits for increasing vitamin D levels in individuals with very low levels, while there appears to be little to no benefit for others.” Prof Hyppönen says.
“These findings highlight the importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D deficiency and provide further evidence for the broad effects of hormonal vitamin D.”
Reference: “Vitamin D deficiency and C-reactive protein: a bidirectional Mendelian randomization study” by Ang Zhou and Elina Hyppönen, May 17, 2022, International Journal of Epidemiology.