- Inflammation is the mechanism by which the body responds to and fights off infection.
- However, chronic or long-term inflammation is associated with many diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and dementia.
- Age, obesity, poor diet and smoking increase the risk of chronic inflammation.
- A new study has added to the growing evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and inflammation.
- Researchers suggest that, in older adults, vitamin D supplements may help reduce the risk of many inflammatory diseases.
Chronic inflammation, however, can last for months or even years. It can be caused by triggers
Inflammation is linked to lifestyle factors including
It also increases with age, so much so that the process has been defined
Now, a large-scale community study in Ireland has found that older adults with vitamin D deficiency have higher levels of inflammation markers than those with sufficient vitamin D levels.
The authors suggest that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of diseases related to chronic inflammation.
The study is published in
Lead author Dr Eamon Laird, a visiting researcher at Trinity College Dublin, said Medical News Today: We anticipated seeing these results as previous research has indicated strong associations of vitamin D with inflammation in different groups of the population.
However, our work is nearly one of the largest population-based studies ever reviewed. We were surprised by the strength of the association and how well it survived in the models even after accounting for multiple factors, he added.
Inflammation is characterized by a number of
There is growing evidence for a relationship between CRP and cytokines, which play a role in acute and chronic inflammation.
The regulation of inflammation and cytokine expression is of crucial importance given the inflammation hypothesis with increasing age, the transition to a more pro-inflammatory state may lead to low-level chronic inflammation and slow accumulation of damage, with subsequent progression to chronic disease.
Dr. Eamon Laird
In this study, researchers measured CRP and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in blood samples from 5,381 unrelated participants aged 50 and older from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA).
They collected demographic data through computer-assisted personal interviews. This included age, gender, education level, smoking status, and alcohol CAGE score.
Participants had self-reported diagnoses of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease and transient ischemic attack.
Participants ranged in age from 50 to 98 years (mean age 62.9 years). Their mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.6 kilograms per square meter, 33.9% were obese, and 70.8% were physically active according to the
Even if there is
In this study, the researchers divided the participants into different inflammation groups based on CRP concentration, as follows:
- normal 0.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- elevated 510 mg/dL
- elevated CRP greater than 10 mg/dL.
Dr. Michael Holick, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine who was not involved in this study, explained why vitamin D deficiency is such a widely studied phenomenon.
He told us:
Vitamin D deficiency is probably the most common medical problem worldwide. It is estimated that one billion people, perhaps even half of the world’s population, [are] vitamin D deficient or insufficient. And the reason is simple. Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight and we are no longer in the sun. We avoid the sun due to skin cancer concerns.
In this study, 13 percent of participants were deficient in vitamin D. Most of those with deficiency were in the older group, had lower education, poorer socioeconomic status, or were smokers.
The researchers found high levels of CRP in people aged 75 and older, with lower education and higher rates of obesity. Those who were less physically active or had three or more chronic conditions also had higher CRP.
After controlling for other risk factors for inflammation, vitamin D deficiency was strongly associated with higher CRP, indicating higher levels of inflammation.
There’s a lot of evidence that vitamin D plays a very important role in immunity, Dr. Holick said MNT extension.
We know that your immune cells, called T cells, have receptors for vitamin D and that the
They produce vitamin D and then send it to T lymphocytes which increase the production of cytokines which help maintain health and reduce the cytokines which cause cytokine storm such as [it] it’s been seen in COVID, Dr. Horlick explained.
Dr Laird said MNT extension that vitamin D supplements could benefit not only those with inflammatory conditions: a number of countries and public health agencies recommend vitamin D supplements/intakes for older adults. In Ireland, for the elderly this is 15 micrograms (mcg) [or] 600 international units (IU) per day. In the US, this is 1520 mcg [or] 600 800 IU per day.
However, it’s not just about older adults. Recent research has shown that young adults (1839 years old) are most at risk and have the highest levels of deficiency which in the long term may contribute to chronic disease risk in later life, he added.
Prof. Holick has been emphatic that: There is essentially no vitamin D in your diet. Cod liver oil, oily fish and mushrooms exposed to sunlight, that’s it! Everyone needs vitamin D supplements in my opinion, unless you work outside all day.
An average adult should get no more than 100 mcg (4000 IU) a day from diet and supplements to avoid the risk of side effects such as nausea, vomiting and confusion.
And Dr. Laird warned that vitamin D alone is unlikely to be the answer to fighting chronic inflammatory conditions:
Vitamin D is not a magic wand; it is the combination of the lifestyle medicine approach to physical activity, sleep, no smoking, alcohol in moderation, healthy nutritional choices with vitamin D that will give the greatest reductions in inflammation risk.
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