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Low levels of vitamin D may increase risk of chronic inflammation, study finds

Knowing consumers’ vitamin D levels may help identify those with a high risk for certain illnesses

Vitamin D concept
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia explored the link between vitamin D and inflammation. According to their findings, consumers who have low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing chronic inflammation; the latter may increase consumers' risk for other serious medical conditions

“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection,” said researcher Dr. Ang Zhou. “High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver 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 diseases.”

Preventing long-term health risks

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 250,000 people enrolled in the U.K. Biobank dataset. The team looked closely at the participants’ vitamin D and protein levels before tracking their long-term health outcomes. 

It was clear to the researchers that there was a link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of chronic inflammation. Participants who had the lowest vitamin D levels had the highest risk of chronic inflammation. When this persists, consumers also have an elevated risk of developing several other medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and heart disease. 

On the other hand, the researchers speculate that healthy levels of vitamin D can be beneficial for consumers who struggle with inflammatory conditions. Based on their findings, they have reason to believe that consumers with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune diseases may have fewer complications when they maintain healthy vitamin D levels. 

“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,” said researcher Elina Hyppönen. “These findings highlight the importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D deficiency, and provide further evidence for the wide-ranging effects of hormonal vitamin D.” 

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