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Reuters Health Information (2008-10-07): Vitamin D deficiency tied to increased IBD activity, reduced quality of life


Vitamin D deficiency tied to increased IBD activity, reduced quality of life

Last Updated: 2008-10-07 14:16:34 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), vitamin D deficiency is associated with lower quality of life and higher disease activity, according to a study presented this week at the 73rd annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), but whether vitamin D deficiency parallels disease activity or adversely impacts quality of life is not known, Dr. Alex Ulitsky and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee point out in a meeting abstract.

In their retrospective cohort study of 504 IBD patients (403 with Crohn's and 101 with ulcerative colitis), nearly half (49.8%) were vitamin D deficient at some point, with 11% being severely deficient. Older age and older age at diagnosis were the only clinical predictors of low vitamin D levels.

"Vitamin D deficiency was not significantly associated with being hospitalized for IBD or having IBD-related surgeries," Dr. Ulitsky told Reuters Health.

"However, in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients, we found that vitamin D deficiency was independently associated with having increased disease activity scores compared to normal levels of vitamin D."

Crohn's patients with vitamin D deficiency, but not ulcerative colitis patients, also had worse quality of life when compared to patients who were not vitamin D deficient, independent of other risk factors.

Dr. Ulitsky concluded: "In view of recent findings in animal studies that implicate vitamin D as playing an important role in the regulation of the immune system, we feel that our study provides an impetus to prospectively research the role of vitamin D monitoring and supplementation in inflammatory bowel diseases and its potential as a possible therapeutic agent in these disorders."

In related research reported at the conference, researchers from the University of Tennessee measured vitamin D levels in 118 patients with chronic liver disease and found some degree of vitamin D deficiency in the vast majority of them (92.4%). At least one third, mostly cirrhotic patients, were severely deficient.

"Since deficiency is common among these patients, vitamin D replacement may hopefully prevent osteoporosis and other bone complications related to end stage liver disease," said lead investigator Dr. Satheesh P. Nair.

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