Vitamin D in inflammatory bowel disease: more than just a supplement

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The aim of this review is to explore the protective role of vitamin D on the gastrointestinal tract, summarize the epidemiology of vitamin D deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and highlight recent studies examining the impact of low vitamin D and vitamin D supplementation on IBD clinical outcomes.

Recent findings

Vitamin D protects the gut barrier by regulating tight junction proteins and inhibiting intestinal apoptosis. Vitamin D enhances innate immunity by inducing antimicrobial peptides and regulates adaptive immunity by promoting anti-inflammatory T cells and cytokines. Vitamin D may also alter the gut microbiota. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in IBD is 30–40%. Predictors of vitamin D deficiency in IBD include non-white ethnicity, IBD-related surgery, BMI more than 30, female sex, and pregnancy. Low vitamin D is associated with increased disease activity, inflammation, and clinical relapse. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on IBD clinical outcomes is inconclusive.

Summary

Vitamin D plays a protective role on gut health. Vitamin D deficiency in IBD is prevalent and associated with poor outcomes. The benefits of vitamin D supplementation in IBD is unclear. Measuring novel vitamin D metabolites and vitamin D absorption in IBD patients may help guide future studies.

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