A recently published study shows promising results of giving daily supplements of vitamin D to sufferers of Crohn's disease. Apparently, the vitamin improves the intestinal barrier dysfunction associated with the ailment.
Sufferers of Crohn's disease may be relieved to hear that Irish researchers have found positive results of treating the ailment with vitamin D supplements. The study which is published in the June issue of United European Gastroenterology Journal shows how daily supplements of vitamin D helped patients maintain their intestinal permeability, whereas this deteriorated in the group that got placebo (dummy pills).
Supports earlier research
The study was conducted by Professor Maria O'Sullivan and Tara Raftery, Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. The authors say that, whilst the data call for further confirmation, it supports earlier research that suggests a role for vitamin D in maintaining intestinal barrier integrity.
A total of 27 Crohn's patients participated in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. The patients were randomly assigned to vitamin D supplementation or placebo for a period of three months. The researchers found that patients in the vitamin D group were less prone to gut leakiness (a result of increased intestinal permeability) compared with the placebo group. Also, patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D showed signs of reduced inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein and antimicrobial peptides) and even reported better quality of life.
Welcomed by experts
The underlying mechanism of vitamin D's action remains unknown, but experts welcome this new study which offers some promise to sufferers of this lifelong, chronic relapsing and remitting gastrointestinal ailment that is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue and impaired quality of life. In Europe, incidences of Crohn's disease vary with up to 12.7 cases per 100,000 population per year. Rates are generally higher in northern and western Europe than in the southern and eastern regions of Europe.
Oil capsules help the body absorb vitamin D
Vitamin D belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins together with vitamins A, E and K. In the digestive system, vitamins like these are absorbed well together with food that is high in fat. When taking supplements of vitamin D, the nutrient is absorbed a lot better when ingested with some type of lipid. A formula with biologically active vitamin D3 in capsules with vegetable oil can increase the bio-availability of the vitamin substantially. This has been tested on athletes in a study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Effects of vitamin D supplementation on intestinal permeability, cathelicidin and disease markers in Crohn's disease: Results from a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study
United European Gastroenterology Journal June 2015 3: 294-302