Vitamin D linked to lower inflammation in older people, study finds

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New research from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick indicates that vitamin D status is linked to levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, in older adults.

The findings were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Key Findings

CRP is a blood measure of inflammation. High levels can indicate infection, while lower—but still above normal—levels can indicate low-grade inflammation, a condition common in older adults.

This low-grade, persistent inflammation may cause slow damage accumulation and become a significant risk factor for various chronic diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular disease, mental health decline, and diabetes.

The study found that a vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with higher CRP levels, while sufficient vitamin D status reduced the risk of high CRP levels.

This association remained even after adjusting for other factors such as physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption, obesity, educational level, kidney function, biological sex, and age.

Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential for bone health and has recently been linked to immune function.

Previous research from the Irish Longitudinal Study On Aging (TILDA) has shown that one in eight older Irish adults are deficient in this crucial vitamin, with the highest risk groups including the elderly, smokers, those with low household incomes, and those living with obesity.

Furthermore, previous research from Professor Rose Anne Kenny and Dr. Eamon Laird has reported an association of vitamin D with COVID-19.

Implications for Health Policy

These findings provide reassurance for policymakers that fortification of foods with vitamin D could potentially offer health benefits and is not associated with adverse results for inflammation.

Dr. Laird, the lead author of the study, stated, “This study is very important given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and chronic disease in older adults living in Ireland.

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.”

Dr. Laird further added that while vitamin D is an important component, maintaining the lowest risk of inflammation requires a combination of vitamin D, regular physical activity, a healthy lifestyle, adequate sleep, and social interactions.

If you care about depression, please read studies that vegetarian diet may increase your depression risk, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about 5 signs of depression you shouldn’t ignore, and results showing new drug could start fighting depression in just 2 hours.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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