Vitamin D and Ulcerative Colitis Remission

A recent study (J Gubatan et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 240-6) examined a prospective study of 70 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC).  These patients (average age 48.6 yrs) were initially in clinical remission.  Key findings:

  • Mean baseline vitamin D (25-OH) level was lower among patients with subsequent relapse (29.5 ng/mL) than those without relapse (50.3 ng/mL)
  • Over 12 months, a 25-OH D value <35, was associated with a small increased risk of relapse (odds ratio1.25). 20% of patients with a value <35 had clinical relapse compared with 9% (P= .003) who had values >35.

Because vitamin D levels are inversely related to UC disease activity, this study is particularly intriguing.  By enrolling patients prospectively while in remission, this study suggests that good vitamin D levels may directly have immunoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.

The AGA Journals blog provides an excellent summary of this study: Can Vitamin D Affect Risk of Ulcerative Colitis Relapse?

“In an editorial that accompanies the article, Stephen Hanauer reminds readers that the mean vitamin D level in the entire cohort was 44 ng/mL, and 60% of the subjects were taking vitamin D supplements. A normal vitamin D level is considered to be 20–40 ng/mL in healthy individuals, and the 35 ng/mL cut-off level used in the study was within this range.

Hanauer also mentions that in assessing the confidence intervals for risk of relapse at lower or higher vitamin D levels, there does not appear to be a dose–response effect in the odds ratios according to levels. Based on these findings, Hanauer says it would be premature to target a level of 35 ng/mL. He states that the best predictors of clinical relapse are still endoscopic and histologic markers of inflammation.”

My take: At this time, trying to maintain a normal vitamin D level is likely to be worthwhile; though, values obtained during acute flares remain unreliable.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.