Vitamin D and inflammation

Dermatoendocrinol. 2015 Jan 29;6(1):e983401. doi: 10.4161/19381980.2014.983401. eCollection 2014 Jan-Dec.


Several studies found an inverse relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and markers of inflammation. A controversy exists as to whether vitamin D lowers inflammation or whether inflammation lowers 25(OH)D concentrations. Certainly 25(OH)D concentrations fall after major surgery. However, is this due to inflammation lowering 25(OH)D or is 25(OH)D being metabolically cleared by the body to quell inflammation. We searched the literature and found 39 randomized controlled trials (RCT) of vitamin D and markers of inflammation. Seventeen found significantly reduced inflammatory markers, 19 did not, one was mixed and one showed adverse results. With few exceptions, studies in normal subjects, obesity, type 2 diabetics, and stable cardiovascular disease did not find significant beneficial effects. However, we found that 6 out of 7 RCTS of vitamin D3 in highly inflammatory conditions (acute infantile congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, SLE, active TB and evolving myocardial infarction) found significant reductions. We found baseline and final 25(OH)D predicted RCTs with significant reduction in inflammatory markers. Vitamin D tends to modestly lower markers of inflammation in highly inflammatory conditions, when baseline 25(OH)D levels were low and when achieved 25(OH)D levels were higher. Future inquiries should: recruit subjects with low baseline 25(OH)D levels, subjects with elevated markers of inflammation, subjects with inflammatory conditions, achieve adequate final 25(OH)D levels, and use physiological doses of vitamin D. We attempted to identify all extant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of vitamin D that used inflammatory markers as primary or secondary endpoints.

Keywords: C-reactive protein; cardiovascular disease; cytokines; inflammation; randomized controlled trials; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review