#1 Best Vitamin for Chronic Inflammation, New Study Finds
Inflammation happens when a person's immune system feels that it's needed and sends inflammatory cells to the area that's perceived to be in danger, which can cause pain and swelling as well as potential damage, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Chronic inflammation happens when this occurs regularly, even when the body isn't in need of an immune response. According to a new study, regulating levels of one specific vitamin may help address this issue.
Research shows that what you eat can improve inflammation while there are also certain foods that can make it worse. That's why those who deal with chronic inflammation may want to do their best to avoid things like certain vegetable oils and foods high in refined carbs. Beyond that, they may also want to make sure that they are getting a proper amount of the sunshine vitamin, as a study has found that vitamin D might be a worthwhile supplement for anyone who deals with chronic inflammation.
During the study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers took a look at genetic data from the U.K. Biobank regarding the health and lifestyle of 294,970 participants who were of White-British ancestry.
Those behind the analysis found that participants who were deficient in vitamin D had higher C-reactive protein levels, which is associated with inflammation.
"High levels of C-reactive protein are generated by the liver in response to inflammation, so when your body is experiencing chronic inflammation, it also shows higher levels of C-reactive protein," lead researcher, UniSA's Dr. Ang Zhou, told ScienceDaily.
Contrarily, researchers also observed that participants with high vitamin D levels had lower inflammatory markers.
"This study examined vitamin D and C-reactive proteins and found a one-way relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high levels of C-reactive protein, expressed as inflammation," Zhou said. "Boosting vitamin D in people with deficiencies may reduce chronic inflammation, helping them avoid a number of related diseases."
When it comes to how vitamin D can decrease the severity of inflammation, Jesse Feder, RDN, CSCS at My Crohns and Colitis Team, tells Eat This, Not That!, "Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the anti-inflammatory cells and immune cells that are involved in inflammation."
Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating blood pressure as well as energy levels, as low vitamin D levels have been linked to fatigue, mood changes, and muscle weakness.
How to get more vitamin D in your diet
Most adults are not getting enough vitamin D; a 2018 study revealed that 41.6% of adults in the United States are deficient in this essential vitamin, suggesting that many can benefit from being more cognizant about their vitamin D intake. Although your body can produce vitamin D through sun exposure, it is also important to consume adequate levels of vitamin D through food and supplements.
If you're interested in increasing your vitamin D levels to help with chronic inflammation, then you may want to consider adding certain foods to your diet.
Feder notes, "One of the best ways to increase vitamin D through one's diet is to increase the amount of fatty fish such as salmon and sardines." On top of that, Feder says that you can "also look for products that are fortified with vitamin D such as milk."
Finally, if your diet isn't cutting it, Feder says, "you can take a daily vitamin D supplement to increase your level."
Of course, it's always a good idea to consult your doctor or dietitian before you make any major changes to your diet or start taking supplements so that you can be sure that you're doing what's best for your body. They may recommend a blood test to determine whether your vitamin D levels are in a safe range to begin with, because if they are, you may not experience the same anti-inflammatory benefits of vitamin D supplementation.
"We have repeatedly seen evidence for health benefits for increasing vitamin D concentrations in individuals with very low levels, while for others, there appears to be little to no benefit," senior investigator and Director of UniSA's Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, told ScienceDaily.