A new study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a long list of immune mediated diseases.

A vitamin D deficiency has been linked to immune-mediated diseases before. There is good evidence that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes (T1D), inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjogren’s syndrome.

In this present study, researchers led by Dr Sreeram V Ramagopalan of the University of Oxford wanted to know if vitamin D deficiency correlated with immune-mediated diseases in the hospital setting.

They searched medical records for all patients admitted to an English National Health Service hospital, specifically looking for patients that were medically coded for vitamin D deficiency or the severe vitamin D deficiency diseases, rickets and osteomalacia.

The researchers then looked at what diseases these patients coded for vitamin D deficiency suffered from. And they matched these vitamin D deficient patients with controls, patients admitted to the hospital that weren’t suffering from vitamin D deficiency, rickets or osteomalacia. In total, they had records for 19,338 patients with vitamin D deficiency (13,260 with vitamin D deficiency only, 1,228 with rickets and 5,191 with osteomalacia). They matched these patients with 8,605,952 controls.

They wanted to know, in the hospital setting, if you’re admitted with vitamin D deficiency, are you more or less likely to have certain diseases than those not admitted with vitamin D deficiency?

Here’s what they found:

The researchers found a laundry list of immune-mediated diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. If you were coded for vitamin D deficiency, you had an increased risk of having Addison’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic active hepatitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, pemphigoid, pernicious anemia, primary biliary cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and thyrotoxicosis.

Regardless of whether vitamin D deficiency causes these diseases or these diseases cause vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D deficiency should be treated and monitored. It is important to measure both 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and 25-OH vitamin D. At the very least, this study provides evidence that patients with these diseases are at risk for vitamin D deficiency and should be treated accordingly. Further research will clarify if vitamin D sufficiency has any prevention or treatment effect for these diseases.


Vitamin D Council Newsletter August 6, 2013.

Ramagopalan SV et al. Hospital admissions for vitamin D related conditions and subsequent immune-mediated disease: record-linkage studies. BMC Med, 2013.

Sharing is caring!