Studies have shown that people with autoimmune disease are deficient in vitamin D, but the jury is still out on whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to the development of autoimmune disease, if it’s a symptom of autoimmune disease, or if it’s a bit of both.
Whatever the case, vitamin D is a critical nutrient millions of people are deficient in (whether they have an autoimmune disease or not). This has to do in part with the fact that we don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as we used to, and in part with the fact that the Standard American Diet (SAD) lacks the essential nutrients our bodies need to function at their best.
Furthermore, many people have poor digestion due to an insufficient level of digestive enzymes, reduced intestinal flora, chronic inflammation, and/or gastrointestinal disorders.
In this article, we’ll look at a few common autoimmune diseases and how vitamin D deficiency and supplementation may affect these conditions.
The Connection Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Autoimmune Disease
According to a study published in the medical journal, Frontiers in Immunology, it has been discovered that supplementation with vitamin D may be able to “prevent both the initiation and progression of autoimmune (EAE) and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), experimental models of MS and RA, respectively.”
This means that using a vitamin D supplement (if you’re deficient) may help regulate your immune system and give you consistent symptom relief.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Lupus
According to a study published in the medical journal, Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, both healthy individuals and individuals with lupus showed an increased autoimmune response in association with vitamin D deficiency.
This highlights the possible correlation between the development of autoimmune disease due to vitamin D deficiency, and the health complications it can cause in someone currently living with an autoimmune disease.
To conduct this study, samples were taken from 32 European American female patients with lupus and 32 matched controls, both ANA-positive and ANA-negative.
ANA-positive individuals have autoiantibodies in their blood. (Autoantibodies are immune proteins that mistakenly target and attack the body’s healthy tissues.)
Results of this study showed that vitamin D deficiency was significantly more frequent among patients with lupus (69 percent) and those with ANA-positive blood (71 percent). Those with ANA-negative blood showed far fewer incidents of vitamin D deficiency (22 percent).
This could very well mean that those with ANA-positive blood who do not yet have an autoimmune disease may be at significant risk of developing one in the future!
Unfortunately, since the true connection between vitamin D deficiency, inflammation, and autoimmune disease has not yet been made, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not healthy people with ANA-positive blood could prevent the future development of autoimmune disease by taking vitamin D supplements.
However, more and more research suggests that there is a definite connection between multiple autoimmune diseases and vitamin D, so, once you get your levels checked, this is something you should discuss with your doctor.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Rheumatoid Arthritis
According to a study published in the medical journal, Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism:
”“Reduced vitamin D intake has been linked to increased susceptibility to the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and vitamin D deficiency has been found to be associated with disease activity in patients with RA.”
With this research, we still get the “chicken and the egg” question. Does vitamin D deficiency lead to an autoimmune disease, or is it a symptom of an autoimmune disease?
Either way, this study also concluded that supplementing with vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis and provide pain relief in individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
There is also a strong connection between vitamin D deficiency (as well as other nutritional deficiencies) in those living with an inflammatory bowel disease. This is believed to be caused by the inability of a diseased and inflamed digestive system to adequately absorb nutrients from food and supplements.
According to a study published in the medical journal, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases:
”“Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease although it is not clear if this is cause or effect. However, a single trial of vitamin D was shown to decrease disease activity scores in a small cohort of patients with CD, suggesting therapeutic benefits from elevating vitamin D levels.”
Why You Should Check Your Vitamin D Levels Before Using a Supplement
Back in 2007, I was told my vitamin D levels were critically low (I have celiac disease), and I’ve been taking a supplement ever since. However, it is possible to take too much vitamin D, that’s why it’s very important to have your blood levels checked before using a supplement.
Although rare, hypervitaminosis D can develop in patients who use medications to treat high blood pressure (thiazide diuretics) and heart diseases (digoxin) because these medications can increase vitamin D in the blood.
Moreover, estrogen therapy, prolonged use of antacids, and an anti-tuberculosis medication called isoniazide can also cause elevated levels of vitamin D.
In addition, certain pre-existing health conditions can also lead to hypervitaminosis D.
These conditions include:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
Now You Can Check Your Vitamin D Levels at Home
For some patients, getting a vitamin D level assessment at the doctor’s office is easy enough. For others, however, it can be a chore. If your doctor refuses to order the test, or if your insurance company doesn’t cover it, you may never know if supplementing with vitamin D could help ease your pain and inflammation.
That’s where EverlyWell comes in. With EverlyWell, everything you need comes in one easy-to-use kit with free shipping both ways. (They also accept HSA and FSA accounts, so you might not have to pay a penny out-of-pocket!)
Here’s how it works:
Once you order, the test materials are delivered to your doorstep.
Enter the barcode included with your kit at EverlyWell.com.
Complete a simple finger prick collection and return with prepaid shipping.
An independent board-certified physician will review your results.
Once verified, you’ll receive your results on their secure platform within days.
As soon as you receive your results, share them with your doctor (this will be especially vindicating if he or she hasn’t believed you this whole time, and it turns out you DO have a vitamin D deficiency).
If you are deficient in vitamin D, you and your doctor will be able to create a treatment plan that may include using a supplement. Which could mean that even though you’re living with an autoimmune disease, you’ll feel better than you have in years!
Click on the picture below to order your Vitamin D home test today!