Scientists from the University of South Australia found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to chronic inflammation.
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and many other biological effects.
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, though some foods are fortified with the vitamin.
For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is by taking a supplement because it is hard to eat enough food.
In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D₃ and vitamin D₂.
In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a disease in which the bones become soft, weak, deformed, and painful.
In teens and adults, vitamin D deficiency causes osteomalacia, a disorder that causes bone pain and muscle weakness.
Low vitamin D status is often associated with inflammation as reflected by increased C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.
CPR is a protein made by the liver and secreted into the blood. It is often the first evidence of inflammation or an infection in the body.
Its level increases in the blood within a few hours after the start of infection or other inflammatory injuries.
CRP is used to identify the presence of inflammation, determine its severity, and monitor response to treatment.
In the study, researchers aimed to examine the causal association between vitamin D status and CRP.
They used data from almost 300,000 adults from the UK Biobank. Vitamin D levels in the body and CRP levels were analyzed.
The team found Vitamin D levels in the body had an L-shaped association with CRP levels, where CRP levels decreased sharply with increasing vitamin D levels for people within the deficiency range (<25 nmol/L).
Other analyses confirmed the inverse association between vitamin D and CRP in people with vitamin D deficiency, but not in people with higher vitamin D levels.
These findings suggest that the association between vitamin D and CRP levels is likely to be caused by vitamin D deficiency.
The team suggests that improving low vitamin D levels in the body may reduce chronic inflammation.
The research was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and conducted by Ang Zhou et al.
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