Gut bacteria and vitamin D: What is the link?


ISLAMABAD, December 10 (online): Vitamin D deficiency is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, but clinical trials of vitamin D supplements have yielded mixed results. A new study that found links between the active form of the vitamin and gut bacteria may help explain why.
Vitamin D is essential for strong immunity and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Several studies have found that low levels of vitamin D in the blood correlate with a wide range of illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
A few studies have even hinted that low vitamin D levels are associated with severe COVID-19, although the research is inconclusive.
Despite these associations, evidence for the benefits of widespread vitamin D supplementation to prevent disease in otherwise healthy people has been mixed.
For example, a large clinical trial found no evidence that a vitamin D supplement prevented cardiovascular disease and cancer in older adults.Another trial found no evidence that taking a supplement improved bone health.
When healthcare professionals and medical researchers want to determine an individual’s vitamin D status, they measure serum levels of the inactive precursor, because this reflects how much vitamin D the body stores.
However, the crucial factor may be how the vitamin is metabolized rather than how much of it is stored.
When measuring how much active vitamin D older males had in their blood, the UC San Diego researchers found that its levels correlated with the diversity of the community of bacteria living in their gut, or gut microbiome.
Levels of active vitamin D also correlated with the number of “friendly” bacteria in their gut.