Vitamin D supplements lower the risk of autoimmune disease

January 31, 2022
Vitamin D supplements lower the risk of autoimmune disease

A high daily dose of vitamin D was seen to cause over 20% reduction in risk of developing an autoimmune disease, said researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, US. Autoimmune diseases are a growing concern in the industrialised world, where the chronic condition(s) are noted to be the third leading cause of overall morbidity as well as the leading cause of morbidity among women.

To study the effect of vitamin D and marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid supplements on autoimmune disease risk, researchers recruited almost 26,000 participants: in a randomised, double-blind trial, these participants were given either the supplements or a placebo and tracked for five years.

At the end, researchers found that a 2,000 IU (international units) dose of vitamin D per day reduced the risk of developing an autoimmune disease by 22%, with or without omega-3 fatty acid supplements. When researchers looked at only the last three years of the intervention, the vitamin D group had 39% fewer participants that developed autoimmune diseases.

[This experimental dose is larger than the standard 400-800 IU dose of vitamin D – however, consuming 1,000 IU or even more has been linked to various health benefits, with no obvious negative side effects consuming up to 4,000 IU.]

While vitamin D can be obtained from foods such as fatty fish or cheese, and is synthesised by our bodies from exposure to sunlight, Dr. Karen Costenbader, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the division of Rheumatology, advises against self-dosing with as much vitamin D as possible.

“I would say everybody should talk to their doctor first before taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D on top of whatever else you’re taking. There are certain health problems such as kidney stones and hyperparathyroidism (a rise in calcium levels), where you really shouldn’t be taking extra vitamin D.”

The researchers are now working on another survey that also includes younger participants to assess the impact of vitamin D on autoimmune diseases and see how long the benefits last.

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Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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