Vitamin D helps asthma and Crohn’s disease

In a study, published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers at the pulmonary division at National Jewish Health in Denver, compared vitamin D levels and asthma severity in 54 people with asthma and found that people with higher vitamin D levels had better lung function measures than people with lower vitamin D levels. In particular, people with low vitamin D performed worse on tests of lung function and airway hyper-responsiveness, two hallmarks of asthma.
Vitamin D levels were directly related to the participants’ score on the breathing tests: airway hyper-responsiveness was nearly twice as bad in people with vitamin D insufficiency (below the threshold level of 30 nanograms/milliliter) as in those with higher vitamin D levels.
The study also showed that low vitamin D levels were associated with increased production of a pro-inflammatory protein in the blood, which raises the possibility that low vitamin D levels could be related to increased inflammation in people with asthma.

Sutherland, E. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Jan. 28, 2010, advance online edition.

Courtesy of WebMD


A new study by John White, an endocrinologist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and a team of scientists from McGill University and the Université de Montréal suggests that Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to Crohn's disease, noting that people from northern countries, which receive less sunlight that is necessary for the fabrication of Vitamin D by the human body, are particularly vulnerable to Crohn's disease.

Vitamin D, in its active form (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), is a hormone that binds to receptors in the body's cells. Dr. White's interest in Vitamin D was originally in its effects in mitigating cancer. Because his results kept pointing to Vitamin D's effects on the innate immune system that acts as the body's first defense against microbial invaders, he investigated Crohn's disease on the basis that it is a defect in innate immune handling of intestinal bacteria that leads to an inflammatory response that may lead to an autoimmune condition such as Crohn’s.

Dr. White and his team found that Vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes an antimicrobial peptide, and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes. Both Beta-defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it cannot combat invaders in the intestinal tract.

This discovery suggests an over-the-counter supplement such as Vitamin D could help people defend themselves against Crohn's disease.

The study appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Courtesy of Medical News Today

First Published in January 2010

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