Why I Don’t Check Vitamin D Levels During IBD Flare-ups

A recent study (C Striscuiglio et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 501-6) helps explain the role of inflammation on vitamin D levels in pediatric patients (n=51) with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Key findings:

  • The free/total 25-OH D ratio was higher in patients with newly-diagnosed IBD compared to healthy controls (P< .001)
  • A significant direct correlation was found between free/total 25-O D ratio and the activity index of disease (P= .01)
  • While there was frequent deficiency in total vitamin D levels,  the free 25-OH D which is the active form of vitamin D was normal or elevated in patients with newly-diagnosed IBD; this, in turn, was due to a decrease in vitamin-D binding protein which is related to inflammation. The authors hypothesized that at the cellular level in the intestine, there may be peripheral resistance due to inflammation and even supratherapeutic levels of free vitamin D could be needed to produce the active form (1,25-OH D).

My take: This study shows that 25-OH D levels (total) have almost no value at the onset of IBD.  Even normal or elevated free levels of 25-OH D which were found in this study does not preclude the potential need to supplement with vitamin D according to the study authors. In addition, as noted in previous posts, Vitamin D levels can normalize without supplementation when the patient’s IBD responds to therapy.

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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.

Dangerous animal –seen on our hike to the tea house, Banff