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New study identifies association between lower levels of vitamin D and inflammation in older adults

A new study has found that older adults with lower levels of vitamin D have higher levels of inflammation, which is a risk factor for chronic diseases.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick. They analyzed data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA), which is a large-scale study of older adults in Ireland.

The researchers found that older adults with vitamin D levels below 25 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, than those with vitamin D levels above 25 ng/mL.

CRP levels are typically higher in people with chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. However, even in people without these diseases, higher CRP levels are associated with an increased risk of developing these conditions.

The researchers say that their findings suggest that optimizing vitamin D levels in older adults could help to reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases.

"This study is very important given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and chronic disease in older adults living in Ireland," said Dr. Eamon Laird, lead author of the study. "Our findings along with previous trials in this area suggest that optimizing vitamin D status to above deficient levels could help to benefit the inflammation pathway in community dwelling older adults."

The researchers say that more research is needed to confirm their findings and to determine the optimal level of vitamin D for reducing inflammation in older adults. However, they say that their findings suggest that older adults should talk to their doctor about getting their vitamin D levels checked.

In addition to vitamin D, there are other lifestyle factors that can help to reduce inflammation, such as regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep.

Journal Information: Eamon Laird et al, Vitamin D status & associations with inflammation in older adults, PLOS ONE (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0287169
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