vitamin D and Crohn's diseaseCrohn’s disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition where part of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and ulcerated marked with sores. Along with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is part of a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Crohn’s disease may involve the immune system. The immune system of a person with Crohn’s disease may treat bacteria, food, or other substances as foreign invaders, leading to chronic inflammation from the accumulation of white blood cells in the lining of the intestines and resulting in ulcerations and injury to the tissues.

There is emerging data that Vitamin D supplementation may lengthen the remission in CD. A new study just published in this month’s edition of United European Gastroenterology journal suggests that vitamin D supplementation may impact the intestinal barrier dysfunction associated with Crohn’s disease and play a role in the treatment of the condition. Researchers assessed changes in gut barrier function and disease markers in CD in response to vitamin D supplementation.

In a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study, researchers assigned 27 CD patients in remission to 2000 IU/day vitamin D supplementation or placebo for 3 months. They found that patients treated with vitamin D supplementation were more likely to maintain their intestinal barrier integrity, whereas intestinal permeability increased in the placebo group. Increased intestinal permeability is has been demonstrated to predict and precede clinical relapse in CD patinets. In addition, patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had signs of reduced inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein and antimicrobial peptides).

A previous study has shown a clear chain of chain of cellular events, from the binding of DNA, through a specific signaling pathway, to the reduction of proteins known to trigger inflammation. The vitamin-D receptor appears to bind directly to DNA and activate a gene known as MKP-1. MKP-1 interferes with the inflammatory cascade triggered by LPS, which includes a molecule known as p38, and results in higher levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha.

Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system is tricked into thinking that self is foreign and starts attacking itself. As a result, the immune system makes antibodies that attack various tissues in the body.

Vitamin D helps autoimmune disorders by regulating T cells in the immune system. This makes the body more tolerant of itself and less likely to mount autoimmune responses. The severity of Crohn’s disease is linked to the lowest vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease, with studies finding a higher prevalence of these diseases in those who are deficient in vitamin D

There is plenty of evidence regarding the benefit of vitamin D supplementation on a multitude of health benefits not just with autoimmune disorders. Given the fact that supplementation of vitamin D in its natural form is harmless and inexpensive, many more people should get their vitamin D levels checked regularly and supplement according.

Source: T. Raftery, A. R. Martineau, C. L. Greiller, S. Ghosh, D. McNamara, K. Bennett, J. Meddings, M. O’Sullivan. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on intestinal permeability, cathelicidin and disease markers in Crohn’s disease: Results from a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 2015; 3 (3): 294 DOI:10.1177/2050640615572176

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