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Vitamin D may be more important than known for ulcerative colitis

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Low vitamin D linked to colitis relapse

A new study suggests vitamin D may be more important than known for preventing ulcerative colitis flare-ups.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation of the large intestine that can frequently relapse after being under control for a period of time.

Vitamin D status important for preventing colitis relapse

A new study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found low vitamin D levels can contribute to ulcerative collitis relapse, which might make it important for your doctor to check your blood levels.

Past studies have shown the vitamin D is linked to a higher risk of Chron's disease and ulcerative colitis flares.

"However, it has been unclear if the flare-up was lowering vitamin D levels, or if low vitamin D levels were causing the flare-up. We thought that if we looked at vitamin D levels when the disease was inactive and then followed patients moving forward, the impact of baseline vitamin D levels on future events may be clearer," said senior study author Alan Moss, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Disease Center at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study found patients were less likely to have a flare-up of ulcerative colitis when they were in remission when vitamin D levels were highest, compared to people whose level was lowest.

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John Gubatan, MD, a physician at BIDMC and first author of the study said the finding suggests higher levels of vitamin D might prevent ulcerative colitis relapse.

He adds levels that prevented a flare-up were within 35ng/ml.

The researchers are also exploring whether vitamin D could have a protective effect for treatment of ulcerative colitis by influencing healthy bacteria that contribute to colon health and help prevent inflammation.

"Serum levels of vitamin D of 35 ng/mL or less during periods of clinical remission increase the risk of UC relapse. Clinical trials to obtain vitamin D levels higher than this threshold should be considered."

The authors concluded: If your vitamin D level is low you may want to consider talking to your doctor about adding the supplement for ulcerative colitis treatment and for preventing relapses.


John Gubatan, Shuji Mitsuhashi, Talia Zenlea, Laura Rosenberg, Simon Robson, Alan C. Moss. Low Serum Vitamin D During Remission Increases Risk of Clinical Relapse in Patients With Ulcerative Colitis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2017; 15 (2): 240 DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.05.035



ANYONE with UC who does not have blood levels at, or above 50 ng/ml, is suffering unnecessarily. Just ask someone who has supplemented/sunned to raise levels. MIRACULOUS improvement in symptoms. End of debate.