Vitamin D can support Crohn’s disease

27 February 2012

Vitamin D can support in Crohn’s disease Exciting research out of Canada has demonstrated that Vitamin D can counter the effects of Crohn’s disease. John White, an endocrinologist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, led a team of scientists from McGill University and the Université de Montréal in the research. Crohn’s disease causes chronic and progressive inflammation of the ileum (part of the small intestine that absorbs nutrients), that can lead to frequent bouts of diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and weight loss. Approximately, 65000 Australian’s suffer with this condition. Treatment is usually aggressive involving either invasive surgery with removal of sections of the bowel or intestines and strong pain killers or steroidal drugs. These treatments are often not effective in managing relapses. However this exciting research demonstrates that Vitamin D may counter the effects of this chronic condition.

According to Dr. White, a professor in McGill’s Department of Physiology, “Our data suggests, for the first time, that Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to Crohn’s disease.” Vitamin D, in its active form (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), is a hormone that binds to receptors in the body’s cells. Vitamin D has an effect on the innate immune system that acts as the body’s first defence against microbial invaders amongst many other functions. “It’s a defect in innate immune handling of intestinal bacteria that leads to an inflammatory response that may lead to an autoimmune condition,” such as Crohn’s disease, stresses Dr. White. The most promising element regarding this genetic discovery, says Dr. White, is how quickly it can make a difference to those effected. “Siblings of patients with Crohn’s disease that haven’t yet developed the disease might be well advised to make sure they are vitamin D sufficient. The vast majority of people would be candidates for Vitamin D treatment.” Especially in Australia, where due to the highly effective anti cancer “Slip, Slop and Slap” campaign, vitamin D deficiency has become an epidemic. “

This discovery is exciting, since it shows how a nutritionalsupplement such as Vitamin D could help people defend themselves against Crohn’s disease,” says Marc J. Servant, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Pharmacy and study collaborator. “We have identified a new treatment avenue for people with Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases.”