Thai researchers outline what we know about vitamin D and liver health

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Iryna Imago
Getty Images / Iryna Imago

Related tags Vitamin d Liver

Vitamin D deficiency has been documented to be highly prevalent among populations with liver issues, according to Thai researchers. Their new review of published studies outlines what we know so far about the vitamin’s role in liver health.

“Emerging evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D against liver fibrogenesis,” ​the researchers wrote in their report, published earlier this year​ in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy​.

By fibrogenesis, the researchers, affiliated with Mahidol University in Bangkok, were referring to the development of liver fibrosis, a form of liver damage that is a leading cause of liver transplantation.

They looked at the body of research on vitamin D and liver health published so far and found that several studies demonstrated significant association between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of liver fibrosis.

“Additionally, high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was noted in patients with liver fibrosis, suggesting the use of vitamin D status as a biochemical marker reflecting the progression of liver fibrosis,”​ they reported.

“It is therefore reasonable to postulate that vitamin D supplementation being a cost effective andrelative simple procedure may benefit to liver fibrosis.”

Vitamin D’s role in liver still emerging

The many forms of vitamin D have been extensively studied for its bone health benefits. In contrast, its role in liver health is sparse.

The researchers looked at 18 studies in total that covered vitamin D and liver health. Fourteen of them looked at vitamin D levels associated with liver fibrosis in patients with various chronic liver diseases, while the other four studies looked at genetic variations affecting vitamin D levels related to liver fibrosis.

The strongest evidence for a possible relationship between circulating vitamin D levels and liver fibrosis, they wrote, was reported in a 2014 study out of Turkey​, published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.

“They observed that patients with autoimmune hepatitis had remarkably reduced circulating vitamin D levels, as compared to healthy controls. Moreover, circulating vitamin D levels were negatively correlated with advance fibrosis in those patients,”​ they wrote.

Because of the long legacy of using vitamin D supplements, the Thai researchers argued that it is a relatively safe and potentially efficacious way of managing liver problems and maintaining liver health.

“Additional researches are warranted to validate the safety and efficiency of vitamin D supplements for either the treatment or prevention of liver fibrosis before a standardized treatment regimen can be established,”​ they added.

Source: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Published online ahead of print,
Vitamin D and liver fibrosis: Molecular mechanisms and clinical studies
Authors: Wanvisa Udomsinprasert, et al.

Related topics Research

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