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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.

Vitamin D: Important in prevention of diverticulitis?

Researchers at Harvard recently uncovered a clue as to why some people with diverticulosis go on the develop diverticulitis and some do not. Diverticulosis is having out-pockets of the lining of the colon (diverticula) extruding through weaknesses in the muscular layers of the colon wall. When the diverticula get inflamed, it is diverticulitis, which eventually occurs in 10 – 25% of people with diverticulosis. Diverticulitis results in more than 200,000 hospitalizations that cost more than 2 billion dollars per year and can result in emergency surgery.

About 50% of the people in the U.S. over the age of 60 have diverticulosis. The prevalence of diverticulosis increased from an estimated 10% in the 1920s to about 50% by the late 1960s, perhaps due to less roughage in the diet. However, a 2012, study by Perry AF et al in the journal Gastroenterology concluded, “A high-fiber diet and increased frequency of bowel movements are associated with greater, rather than lower, prevalence of diverticulosis.” The Perry et al study involved more than 2,000 participants, who underwent outpatient colonoscopies and were asked about diet.

Furthermore, diverticulitis has reversed seasonality, with more (not fewer) episodes occurring during the warmer months. Many doctors tell patients with diverticulosis not to eat seeds or popcorn but recent studies show consuming seeds and nuts are not involved one way or the other in developing diverticulitis.

This month, Doctor Lillias Maguire, working under senior author Professor Andrew Chan, both of Massachusetts General Hospital, studied vitamin D levels in people with both diverticulosis and diverticulitis to see if 25(OH)D levels were different in patients who went on to develop diverticulitis.

Maguire LH, Song M, Strate LE, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT.  Higher Serum Levels of Vitamin D are Associated with Reduced Risk of Diverticulitis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Aug 15.

They studied more than 9000 patients with uncomplicated diverticulosis and 922 patients who developed diverticulitis that required hospitalization. Among patients with uncomplicated diverticulosis, the mean 25(OH)D was 29 ng/mL compared with 25 ng/mL among the 922 patients with diverticulitis that required hospitalization (p<.0001). They collected the blood prior to hospitalizations for diverticulitis, minimizing the likelihood diverticular disease resulted in low vitamin D levels.

The mean level was 23.5 ng/mL (p<.0001) for patients who developed recurrent diverticulitis. Compared to patients in the lowest 25(OH)D quintile, the odds ratio for developing diverticulitis were .45 among patients in the highest 25(OH)D quintile (P <0.0001). That is, those with the lower levels were about twice as likely to need hospitalization.

The authors concluded:

“In summary, we show that higher pre-diagnostic serum 25(OH)D levels are associated with a lower risk of requiring hospitalization for diverticulitis. Taken together with prior studies showing an inverse association of 25(OH)D and risk of colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, these results highlight the potential importance of vitamin D in the maintenance of colonic health. Additional studies in cohorts with more detailed information on potential confounders of this association are warranted.”

  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.

3 Responses to Vitamin D: Important in prevention of diverticulitis?

  1. Michael says:

    My brother in law is a few years younger, 65, than me. He has had a dozen CAT and MRI etc scans, a new knee, type II diabetes, over-weight, clumsiness (Yes, let’s blame clumsiness on vitamin D deficiency — why not !!), gall bladder-ectomy, inflamed prostate, diverticulitis multiple times, colon polyps and who knows what other ailments. He hasn’t been in the sun for about 10-12 years when they stopped going camping.

    The anti-sunshine cancer scare is the biggest coup in medical money-grubbing history and the fall of the USA nation — just like when other civilizations died off due some over-sight or boo-boo error or administrative bad-thinking such as allowing lead in the water, arsenic in the produce, or whatever bad decisions and practices weakened and killed them off.

    It is amazing and sad how one man can eat a whole bucket of chicken and/or 3 rows of Oreo cookies at one sitting but be appalled, offended, and scared at the thought of taking more than 400 UIs of Vitamin D. It is both laughable and tragic comment on the mentality of the average American.


  2. anniecmars@yahoo.com.au says:

    I have known for some time that raising my vitamin D level made an enormous difference in reducing the number of acute bouts of diverticulitis I suffer. I also need lots of magnesium and together they reduce acute attacks considerably. After being diagnosed with low vitamin D some years ago, I found my overall bowel function was improved and diverticulitis attacks reduced as well once I had raised my serum vitamin D level from 46 nmol/l to about 100 nmol/l. This meant (for me) taking about 10 X 1000iu capsules a day for some months.

  3. Rita and Misty says:

    Correcting one’s 25(OH)D level can result in miraculously wonderful health benefits. For ME: apparently early menopause was a reversible condition!

    I’m not a person easily swayed by my emotions, but I am always positively effected when I hear vitamin D miracle stories.

    That is NOT to say I think vitamin D is a cure all for everything.

    It is not.

    However, I do believe an optimal 25(OH)D level is necessary for a healthy life.

    For me, optimal is at the higher end of 50 ng/ml–80 ng/ml.

    PS…the Pollyanna in me does think we can be the miracle needed to end this vitamin D deficiency pandemic. The moment has not passed. WE are the moment we create.