Individuals with low vitamin D levels are more at risk of developing chronic inflammation compared to those with higher levels, new evidence has suggested.
Scientists from the University of South Australia have identified a connection between a lack of vitamin D and high inflammation.
According to the academics, chronic inflammation can trigger the development of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and autoimmune conditions.
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During the study, the team of researchers used Mendelian randomisation to assess the vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels of more than 290,000 people.
First author Dr Ang Zhou said: “The findings suggest that boosting vitamin D in people with a deficiency may reduce chronic inflammation.
“Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection.”
Dr Zhou added: “High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver in response to inflammation, so when your body is experiencing chronic inflammation, it also shows higher levels of C-reactive protein.
“This study examined vitamin D and C-reactive proteins and found a one-way relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high levels of C-reactive protein, expressed as inflammation.
“Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases.”
Fellow researcher Professor Elina Hyppönen said: “These results are important and provide an explanation for some of the controversies in reported associations with vitamin D.
“We have repeatedly seen evidence for health benefits for increasing vitamin D concentrations in individuals with very low levels, while for others, there appears to be little to no benefit.”
She concluded: “These findings highlight the importance of avoiding clinical vitamin D deficiency, and provide further evidence for the wide-ranging effects of hormonal vitamin D.”
The study has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.