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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

A look at the inconsistencies in research of vitamin D and inflammation

Recently, headlines around the world reported that vitamin D does not work.

The cause of all these articles was a Lancet paper by Autier et al, which we blogged on.

A look at the recent Lancet review study

Basically, the Autier et al paper concluded that inflammation caused vitamin D levels to go down, not the other way around. What Autier did not specifically highlight was the randomized controlled trials showing vitamin D reduces markers of inflammation when markers of inflammation are elevated.

Recently, a review on the subject by senior author Professor Bess Dawson-Hughes got no press attention.

Zanetti M, Harris SS, Dawson-Hughes B. Ability of vitamin D to reduce inflammation in adults without acute illness. Nutr Rev. 2013 Dec 13.

Her thesis in the paper is simple. For randomized controlled trials to show an effect against markers of inflammation, two conditions must be present:

  1. Low baseline vitamin D levels
  2. Elevated markers of inflammation

The eight studies above meet these criteria, and that is why they were successful trials. But not all trials are successful, because they don’t always meet the above criteria. As she points out, in the largest cross-sectional study, NHANES, markers of inflammation like hs-CRP are only associated with 25(OH)D levels when those levels are less than 21 ng/ml.

The authors concluded:

“Apparent inconsistencies across recent studies of vitamin D status and inflammation may result primarily from differences between the populations being studied. Improving vitamin D status may be of most benefit when starting levels of 25OHD are low, when starting markers of inflammation are high, or in both scenarios. Future interventions should be targeted to populations with these characteristics, notably those who are older, obese, sedentary, and with chronic conditions involving inflammation. While this might seem obvious, there is currently a remarkable lack of information about vitamin D and inflammation in these groups.“

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

One Response to A look at the inconsistencies in research of vitamin D and inflammation

  1. I like this paper “Vitamin D Inhibits Monocyte/macrophage Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Production by Targeting Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Phosphatase” Yong Zhang, Donald Y. M. Leung, and Elena Goleva” which shows how cells incubated in 30 ng/ml vitamin D and above showed significantly reduced response to the LPS. while the highest levels inhibition of inflammatory occurred at 50 ng/ml.
    That finding is consistent with this Fibromyalgia research The relation between vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia syndrome in women. 42 women showed a significant improvement when their blood level of 25(OH) D became>or=30 ng/mL, this improvement became more significant when their blood level of 25(OH) D exceeded 50 ng/ mL.
    Personally I think there may be a threshold effect as I found the greatest improvement in my chronic neuropathic pain came after I raised 25(OH)D above 100nmol/l, however, as I also increased magnesium intake at the same time it may have been that raising Vitamin D status in combination with improved magnesium status produced a more pronounced action than either alone.