Maintenance of wintertime vitamin D status with cholecalciferol supplementation is not associated with alterations in serum cytokine concentrations among apparently healthy younger or older adults

J Nutr. 2011 Mar;141(3):476-81. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.131516. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Epidemiological studies have shown that low vitamin D status results in impaired immune function and is associated with the prevalence of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to reduce circulating concentrations of inflammatory markers in such conditions. However, the possible beneficial effect of vitamin D supplementation in the general population, particularly for those individuals living at high latitudes where hypovitaminosis D is common during wintertime, remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of vitamin D supplementation using doses of 5, 10, and 15 μg/d cholecalciferol (D3) compared with placebo on cytokine concentrations throughout winter in apparently healthy younger (aged 20-40 y) and older (aged ≥64 y) adults. A total of 211 younger and 202 older adults completed the 22-wk intervention (from October to March) with >85% compliance. Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25(OH)D3], high sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-10, soluble CD40 ligand, TGFβ, TNFα, and fibrinogen were measured using ELISA. 25(OH)D3 concentrations significantly decreased in the placebo and 5 and 10/d μg D3 groups in the younger cohort and in the placebo group in the older cohort. Whereas 15 μg/d D3 supplementation maintained 25(OH)D3 concentrations in the younger cohort (baseline, 75.9 nmol/L; postintervention, 69.0 nmol/L) and significantly increased concentrations in the older cohort (baseline, 55.1 nmol/L; postintervention, 73.9 nmol/L), it had no significant effect on cytokine concentrations (ANCOVA, P > 0.05). The long-term effects of low vitamin D status remain to be elucidated and optimization of vitamin D status in otherwise healthy individuals may potentially have lasting beneficial effects on the immune system.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / analysis
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Seasons*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Calcifediol

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN20236112