Boosting vitamin D may ease lupus fatigue

Published on 09 August 2010
Vitamin capsules

People with lupus may benefit from taking vitamin D supplements, new research suggests.

A team at the University of the Basque Country in Bizkaia, Spain, found that boosting vitamin D levels may help to ease the fatigue experienced by people with lupus, although the intervention does not appear to reduce the severity of the disease itself.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues.

This causes inflammation of the skin, joints or internal organs, depending on which parts of the body are affected.

The Spanish researchers set out to discover whether changes in vitamin D levels had any impact on fatigue and disease activity in patients with lupus.

They studied data on 80 patients with lupus, all of whom had taken part in a previous study of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) – a marker of vitamin D status.

Those with low 25(OH)D levels were advised to take vitamin D tablets and were reassessed two years later.

Researchers found that patients who took vitamin D supplements showed increased levels of 25(OH)D.

The higher an individual's level of 25(OH)D, the less fatigue they reported.

Writing in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study authors concluded: "Increasing 25(OH)D levels may have a beneficial effect on fatigue."

However, they also observed: "Our results do not support any effects of increasing 25(OH)D levels on SLE severity."

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said the findings were of interest.

The charity is currently funding a study to investigate the potentially beneficial effects of vitamin D on people with rheumatoid arthritis, specifically whether vitamin D can alter the aggressive immune response found in rheumatoid arthritis and turn it into a less harmful or even a protective one.

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