Fall is here so the days are getting shorter and the sun is lower in the sky. That means your body has less opportunity to make vitamin D. But your need for it remains and is even more apparent with the latest study which shows lower levels of vitamin D is associated with more inflammation in older adults.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick in Ireland found this link and published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.
They discovered a correlation between vitamin D status and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a measure of inflammation in the body. High levels of CRP in the blood can be indicative of an infection, but levels slightly higher than normal can be a mark of low-grade inflammation. It’s common in older adults and the long-term effects of this inflammation can lead to chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, mental health decline, diabetes and more.
Researchers theorize anything with the potential of decreasing CRP levels in the blood can be beneficial because it limits the possibility of chronic disease. That’s a reason they say vitamin D is so important.
Other studies have linked vitamin D levels with bone health and immune function.
Scientists in this study looked at vitamin D levels and CRP levels in Irish residents over the age of 50. They found those deficient in vitamin D had significantly higher levels of inflammation as measured by CRP. That held true even after adjusting for factors such as physical activity, smoking and alcohol use.
Factors they say increased the risk of high CRP levels were things such as obesity, smoking, activity levels, poor kidney function and diabetes.
"This study is very important given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and chronic disease in older adults living in Ireland,” said lead author Dr. Eamon Laird. “Our findings along with previous trials in this area suggest that optimizing vitamin D status to above deficient levels could help to benefit the inflammation pathway in community dwelling older adults.”
Laird also said, "Given that the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) just recently changed the vitamin D intake guidelines for older adults to 15ug per day (600 IU), our findings should provide further reassurance for policy makers to show that maintaining a sufficient vitamin D status is actually linked with lower levels of inflammation and did not increase the risk. Remember vitamin D is one component: in order to have the lowest risk of inflammation people should think about vitamin D in combination with regular physical activity, healthy lifestyle, adequate sleep and social interactions."