Connection between Vitamin D Deficiency and Two Bowel Diseases

Nutrition Health Review, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Connection between Vitamin D Deficiency and Two Bowel Diseases


Research at Penn State University has demonstrated a connection between vitamin D deficiency and two bowel diseases that occur in one of every 1000 people in North America and Europe.

Dr. Margherita T. Cantoma, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Director of the research project, says, "Our experiments show that vitamin D deficiency worsens the symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Treatment with vitamin D for as little as two weeks lessens the symptoms of these inflammatory bowel diseases in mice."

Dr. Cantorna presented her research at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego in April 2000. Her co-authors were Carey Munsick and Candace Bemiss. Their paper is the first in which researchers have reported a connection between vitamin D deficiency and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

"Vitamin D deficiency is more common in people who have inflammatory bowel disease," Dr. Cantorna states. "In addition, the anti-inflammatory drugs often used to treat IBD can cause bone loss as a side effect. Vitamin D taken in combination with these drugs may be able to reduce the effective dose of anti-inflammatory needed to treat the disease and decrease bone loss as well as treat the vitamin deficiency."

In her research conducted at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Cantorna had demonstrated a connection between Vitamin D and two other autoimmune diseases, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. …

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