Vitamin D deficiency in Crohn's disease: Prevalence, risk factors and supplement use in an outpatient setting

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Background and aims: Vitamin D deficiency impacts on bone health and has potential new roles in inflammation. We aimed to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for vitamin D deficiency and to explore vitamin D supplement usage in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) in an outpatient setting, compared with controls.

Methods: Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay in 151 participants, comprising 81 CD patients and 70 age-, sex- and socio-economic status-matched healthy controls. Levels of 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L were classed as deficient. Data on vitamin supplement usage were recorded for all participants at interview.

Results: Vitamin D deficiency was common in patients with CD (63%) and significantly higher in winter than summer (68% v 50%; p < 0.001, χ2). Notably, the deficiency rate remained high even in summer (50%). On regression analysis, 25(OH)D levels were inversely associated with winter season. Disease-specific factors for lower serum 25(OH)D levels were longer disease duration and smoking. Overall, 43% of patients reported using a vitamin D-containing supplement, primarily at low dosages (200–400 IU/d); however, this level of supplement did not prevent deficiency. For the majority of CD patients, 25(OH)D remained below optimal levels proposed to confer bone and immune health benefits.

Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency was common in patients with CD and associated with longstanding disease, smoking and winter. While over 40% of patients used a vitamin D-containing supplement, the dosages were inadequate to prevent deficiency. Appropriate vitamin D screening and supplementation should be considered in the context of health promotion of outpatients with CD.

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