Low Vitamin D levels associated with inflammatory diseases

June 24, 2010

Several studies were recently presented at the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism held in Rome. They reveal that vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with different rheumatic diseases.

In an Italian study among 1,191 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were deficient at less than 20 nanograms per liter in over half of those not using vitamin D supplements and in 33 percent of patients who supplemented with at least 800 international units (IU) per day. A second study conducted in Italy involved 100 participants with inflammatory and noninflammatory autoimmune disease. It found that only 29 percent reached desirable levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D after supplementation with 800 to 1000 IU per day for 6 months. "The results of our study show that daily 800-1,000 IU supplementation is not sufficient to normalize vitamin D levels in patients with rheumatologic or bone conditions," states lead author Dr Pier Paolo Sainaghi of the Immuno-Rheumatology Clinic at A. Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy.

In a study conducted in England, Vitamin D levels were obtained for 90 patients with inflammatory joint disease, osteoporosis or unexplained muscle pain, and 90 control subjects with chronic lower back pain. In those with rheumatic conditions, vitamin D levels were 58 percent lower than those of the control group.

"We have seen in studies that vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with a range of rheumatic diseases, and our results have confirmed this using several clinically accepted measures of disease activity," remarked Dr. L. Idolazzi of the University of Verona who coauthored the second study. "What we need to see now is a range of long term studies, which examine the clinical response of patients to vitamin D supplementation."