Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Vitamin D status and autoimmunity in celiac disease

A new study from researchers out of Columbia University have found those suffering from celiac disease and vitamin D deficiency may be at higher risk for psoriasis.

A cross-sectional study in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology looked at vitamin D levels in patients with celiac disease (CD) to determine if there was a connection between having CD and being diagnosed with another autoimmune disease.

Tavakkoli A, Digiacomo D, Green PH, Lebwohl B. Vitamin D Status and Concomitant Autoimmunity in Celiac Disease. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2013; Jan 16.

CD is an autoimmune disease that most commonly affects the gastrointestinal tract. It is induced through the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat and related grains. CD can also cause iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash.

Recent research has shown that individuals with CD are anywhere from three to ten times more likely than non-CD sufferers to have another autoimmune disease, such as autoimmune thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis.

Some, but not all, research has indicated that the longer a person with CD is exposed to gluten, the more likely he or she is to develop another autoimmune disease. Because vitamin D deficiency is associated with numerous other autoimmune disorders, researchers wanted to see if there was any relationship between having low vitamin D levels and developing other autoimmune diseases after a CD diagnosis.

They analyzed the blood work of 530 CD patients and divided them into three groups:

  • Serum 25(OH)D levels >30 ng/mL
  • Serum 25(OH)D levels >20 ng/mL but <29 ng/mL
  • Serum 25(OHD) levels <20 ng/mL

The researchers found no difference in the overall prevalence of other autoimmune disorders between groups. However, there was an association between psoriasis and low vitamin D levels. Patients with CD whose vitamin D levels were less than 20 ng/mL were more than twice as likely to have psoriasis than those with vitamin D levels above 20 ng/mL.

There was also an association between iron deficiency anemia and low vitamin D levels, which prompted the authors of the study to recommend screening for vitamin D deficiency in anemic CD patients. Notably, 60% of patients in the study were either vitamin D deficient or insufficient.

Thus, it appears that CD patients are yet another group of people likely to have low vitamin D levels. Screening for and treatment of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is warranted for this group of patients.

About Rebecca Oshiro

Rebecca is pursuing master of science degrees in nutrition and clinical health psychology at Bastyr University, where she conducted a university-funded research project on vitamin D and athletic performance. Her passion is utilizing research to advance promising therapies.

Leave a Reply