Many mistake Vitamin D as only a bone building vitamin, but it is actually a hormone tasked with regulating over 2,000 genes. Among Vitamin D's many responsibilities includes lowering inflammation markers. Read on to discover how researchers are noticing a link between lower inflammation marker levels in patients taking Vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, is an essential fat-soluble vitamin produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is a crucial component of the human body. It promotes immune system health, proper blood circulation, heart health as well as facilitating healthy bone growth and overall skeletal health.
Vitamin D is also important for your digestive system. It helps the intestines absorb other essential vitamins and nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Vitamin D has an extensive list of jobs including:
- It is cancer protective and cancer fighting. Vitamin D inhibits: cancer cell growth, the metastasis (spreading) of cancer cells, and angiogenesis (red blood cells form to create and feed new cancer cells).
- It aids in weight control.
- Aids in optimal absorption of calcium.
- Aids in combatting hypertension.
- Lowers inflammatory markers.
But why is Vitamin D essential for Crohn's disease?
Vitamin D, Inflammation, & Crohn’s Disease
For those with an autoimmune disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Vitamin D is an important immune-regulating substance.
People with active Crohn’s disease were found to have lower levels of Vitamin D than people in remission. And those that were supplementing with Vitamin D (even a very small dose) had lower CRP (C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation in the body). Studies noticed Crohn’s disease patients followed a similar correlation between Vitamin D status and inflammation.
Inflammation is one of the most prominent markers of disease activity. Untreated chronic inflammation can lead to narrowing and structuring (scarring) of the intestine, which may eventually need to be removed by surgery. Inflammation can also manifest as physical Crohn’s symptoms, which can impair your quality of life. MRI scans and several other tests will not only detect inflammation but also other Chron's disease symptoms which can impair your quality of life.
Vitamin D is absorbed less effectively in people with Crohn’s disease because inflammation inhibits nutrient absorption. Location of the disease, previous surgeries, and disease severity can also contribute to impaired nutrient absorption.
See here for more ways to reduce inflammation.
How to Support Vitamin D Status Nutritionally
Vitamin D can be derived from food sources like fish and shellfish, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats and egg yolks, oysters, and grass-fed dairy.
How to Take Vitamin D for Crohn’s Disease
We make Vitamin D naturally through sun exposure (not covered with sunscreen), so it's important to be outside as much as you can, although supplementing is often necessary.
Always talk to your healthcare practitioner before deciding on a dose of Vitamin D.
It was shown that over a period of six months, people taking 2,000 IU/day, with Crohn’s, did see a significant increase in Vitamin D status.
Make sure to look for fillers to avoid in the supplements you take and that you are taking vitamin D3 not vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 was shown to be significantly better absorbed than vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is an inactive form of vitamin D, so the body is able to store it and use it when needed. D2 on the other hand, needs to be converted to D3, and that process is not an easy one for the liver.
Gastroenterology At Senderra Specialty Pharmacy
As a Gastroenterology-focused Specialty Pharmacy, our pharmacists are trained to supervise the prescribed drug therapies for Gastroenterology patients. At Senderra, we understand the difficulty associated with managing the complex treatment plans and medications required for gastroenterological conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Learn more about Senderra Specialty Pharmacy for Gastroenterology.
Jørgensen, SP., Hvas, CL, Agnholt J, Christensen LA, Heickendorff L, Dahlerup JF. (2013). Active Crohn’s disease is associated with low vitamin D levels. Journal of Crohn’s & Colitis, 7(10), 407-13. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2013.01.012.
Alrefai, D., Jones, J., El-Matary, W., Whiting, S. J., Aljebreen, A., Mirhosseini, N., & Vatanparast, H. (2017). The Association of Vitamin D Status with Disease Activity in a Cohort of Crohn’s Disease Patients in Canada. Nutrients, 9(10), 1112. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu9101112.
Heaney, R.P., Recker, R.R., Grote, J., Horst, R.L., Armas, L.A. (2011). Vitamin D(3) is more potent than vitamin D(2) in humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(3), 447-445. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2230.
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