May 10, 2012 was World Lupus Day. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease capable of damaging virtually any part of the body, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue.

Some studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in lupus. Just this past week, Dr. Eric Morand of the Monash Lupus Clinic announced that in a five year observational study, low vitamin D levels were associated with more severe symptoms for people with lupus.

This agrees with previous research on lupus and vitamin D. In 2011, several research teams all found that lupus patients with more severe vitamin D deficiency had increased disease activity. Their results were published in the journals Rheumatology, Annals of Rheumatic Diseases and Lupus. Dr. Bodakdar, lead investigator in one of the studies concluded, “Routine screening for vitamin D deficiency and its prompt treatment in patients with newly diagnosed SLE is recommended.”

Furthermore in an interventional study, a group of French researchers found that vitamin D supplementation was well tolerated in lupus patients and improved their immune system by administering 100,000 IU of vitamin D every week for 4 weeks, then 100,000 IU once a month for 6 more months in lupus patients. While larger randomized controlled trials are underway on the effects of vitamin D on lupus patients, these preliminary findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation may be important in the meantime.

Vitamin D supplementation may improve the quality of life and reduce disease activity in lupus patients. It could be a simple and easy step in the care of the disease. Lupus patients should work with their doctor or rheumatologist to see if vitamin D supplementation can be integrated into their care and management of lupus.

Source: Vitamin D Council

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