Vitamin D does it again. Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor function in inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Part 2.

Aug 31, 2018 | autoimmune disease, Functional medicine, intestinal microbiome, Vitamin D, Vitamin D receptors

What a great article we have been reviewing which highlights some of the basic mechanisms behind vitamin D’s tremendous impact on our health and reversal of disease. In part 1 we went over some important concepts as well as some specifics. The article entitled “Ancient Nuclear Receptor VDR with New Functions: Microbiome and Inflammation” published in The Journal of Inflammatory Bowel Disease 2018 still has so much more to tell us though. Wow! We know so much about how vitamin D works. The depth of this knowledge and the specifics are truly remarkable.

Low vitamin D receptor (VDR) activity decreases activity of a gene called ATG16L1. This has been shown to create such intense spontaneous intestinal inflammation it will increase the risk of celiac disease for example. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease (AD) in which our immune system mistakenly attacks the small intestine. And remember, when someone gets one AD they are at a much higher risk of getting a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th AD etc… So if you get celiac disease, you would be more likely to get type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and multiple sclerosis for example. And because what causes ADs also cause chronic disease in general, we already know that getting celiac disease makes it more likely someone will get dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like seizures and migraines and intestinal cancers.

This intestinal inflammation is largely mediated by another important protein called NF Kappa Beta. VDR activity decreases NF Kappa Beta activity thus controlling inflammation. Like the article says, this “supports the use of vitamin D in inflammatory diseases like IBD”.

VDR protects against the invasion of the gut by bad bugs. These bad bugs can be bacteria, viruses, mold/fungus/yeast/candida etc… They are called “pathogens”. Invasion of the gut by these pathogens tend to be what causes the development of food sensitivities as well as gut disruption in general.

Low vitamin D creates problems with too few good, protective bacteria and too many bad bugs. This is called “intestinal dysbiosis”. For example, the article discusses that too much of a bad bug called Heliobacter hepaticus has been shown to cause colon cancer and colitis. Too few of a good bug called Akkermansia municiphila is associated with ulcerative colitis.

The protective effect of probiotics against colitis is because of the VDR activity. With poor vitamin D levels and poor activity of the VDR, probiotics have a very hard time doing their work.

Vitamin D levels less than or equal to 35 in ulcerative colitis (UC) patients whose disease is “in remission” are much more likely to relapse compared with people whose level is greater than 35. This very low level of vitamin D allows high levels of inflammation in the gut. This causes not only an increase chance of relapse but also people relapse sooner.

Ideally, most people’s vitamin D levels should be 70-80 or perhaps a bit higher depending on circumstances. So if having a vitamin D level of 36 provides some protection, image how great protection could be if vitamin D levels were ideal such as 75. We already know from previous studies that bringing vitamin D levels up even a little can have a profound impact on health. For example, increasing vitamin D levels by 30 points decreases a person’s risk of ever getting cancer by 25%. Bring it up 60 points from 20 to 80? 50% reduction in the risk of ever getting cancer! Any kind of cancer.

People with celiac disease who take 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D get a lot better protection from relapse than people taking only 1,000 IU per day.

Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to decrease inflammation in intestinal environment and decrease the competitive advantage that bad bugs tend to have. This allows our good bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria and keep our guts happy.

So, what are you going to do the next time someone tries to tell you that vitamin D isn’t important? You can recite all the great info contained in the article or our summary here. Or even easier, refer them to this blog post or this great scientific article published just this year. It is always nice to be on the cutting edge of scientific knowledge.

“Got a Revolution, got to Revolution.”  Jefferson Airplane


Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctornatural treatment for autoimmune disease by Dr David Bilstrom Functional Medicine Doctor MD



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