Patients with Crohn’s Disease Show Improvement with Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D gets my vote for the nutrient of the decade with it being linked in research to an amazing amount of positive effects in the body, including reducing cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections, promoting DNA repair, as well as increased bone density. Now, we can add that Vitamin D may help to prevent and reverse inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease.  A recent study in theUnited European Gastroenterology Journal found that when patients with Crohn’s Disease were supplemented with 2000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for three months, several markers of disease progression were reduced, as well as their symptoms, as compared to placebo.(1)  Patients who were supplemented with vitamin D3 and who achieved blood hydroxyvitamin D levels of >75nmol/L were found to have increased quality of life scores, less inflammation (CRP levels), and higher LL-37 (human cathelicidin) intracellular levels.
LL-37 is an antimicrobial peptide of the innate immune system that is expressed by the gastrointestinal epithelium.  LL-37 promotes wound healing in intestinal epithelial cells and reduces intestinal inflammation.  Patients who took the vitamin D did not experience any increase in intestinal permeability, as the placebo group experienced (as measured with the lactulose/mannitol test).  Increases in permeability have been shown to predict relapses in Crohn’s patients. It should be noted that not all the patients achieved the target Vitamin D levels, which means that they required higher dosages. And their target level (75 mg/L = 30 ng/mL) is considered low by most integrative doctors these days.  I would like to see this study repeated with at least a 5000 mg/day dosage, which I have found clinically is often needed to get my patients into the ideal level of 50-70 ng/mL (115-128 mg/L).  In the meantime, I think it would be prudent for doctors who treat patients with Crohn’s disease to measure vitamin D levels and consider supplementing them with at least 2000 mg/day of vitamin D3, preferably with vitamin K as well.
1. T. Raftery, A. R. Martineau, C. L. Greiller, et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on intestinal permeability, cathelicidin and disease markers in Crohn’s disease: Results from a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 2015; 3 (3): 294.


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