Vitamin D deficiency is associated with inflammation, a negative response of the immune system, even in healthy women, a new study has found.
A University of Missouri nutritional sciences researcher said that increased concentrations of serum Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), an inflammatory marker, were found in women who had insufficient vitamin D levels.
This study is the first to find an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and concentrations of TNF in a healthy, non-diseased population.
This may explain the vitamin's role in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
"The findings reveal that low vitamin D levels negatively impact inflammation and immune response, even in healthy women," said Catherine Peterson, assistant professor in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.
"Increased inflammation normally is found in people with obesity or chronic diseases; a small decrease in vitamin D levels may aggravate symptoms in people who are sick," Peterson added.
Peterson said that the results support the need to re-examine the biological basis for determining the dietary reference intake (DRI) of vitamin D.
The study has been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.