Vitamin D Status a Common Health Concern for People with Lupus, Though Not Linked to Disease Activity
Nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D can be made by the body when skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. However, many people with lupus need to avoid the sun due to photosensitivity (when exposure to sunlight worsens skin disease or other lupus symptoms). Vitamin D has been linked to autoimmuneinflammatory diseases like lupus, but its exact role in disease activity or progression remains unclear. Now, new research shows that while taking vitamin D supplements can be a great way to increase blood levels of vitamin D and avoid deficiency, it may not be an effective strategy to improve lupus disease activity.
In this study, researchers looked at people with lupus living in northern and southern India. First, they assessed baseline blood levels of vitamin D in both groups and found that vitamin D deficiency was common in the study population overall, occurring in 41.5% of the 702 participants. People living in the northern region of India, with less sunlight, were more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency than those living in the south.
However, no relationship was observed between vitamin D blood levels and lupus disease activity. Even after participants received short-term vitamin D supplementation for 6 months, resulting in improved blood levels, there was no effect on disease activity. A higher supplement dose (60,000 units) proved to be safe and more effective at raising vitamin D levels compared to a standard dose (30,000 units). Longer-term vitamin D supplementation may have benefits; however, these studies have not been completed.
Many people with lupus have low vitamin D levels. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your supplements or care plan. Learn about eating healthy when you have lupus.