When it comes to supplements, one type is often highly recommended. Vitimin D has been shown to help relieve many different health conditions including reducing your risk of arthritis later in life.
Taking daily vitamin D supplements has been shown to carry a lower risk of developing autoimmune disease, with a more pronounced effect after two years, finds a recent study by The BMJ today.
The researchers say the clinical importance of these findings is high, “given that these are well-tolerated, non-toxic supplements, and that there are no other known effective therapies to reduce rates of autoimmune diseases.”
Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defence system mistakenly attacks normal cells.
Common conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and thyroid diseases, which increase with age, particularly among women.
Both vitamin D supplements are known to have a beneficial effect on inflammation and immunity, but no large, randomised trials have tested whether these supplements can lower the risk of autoimmune disease.
The study involved 25,871 adults with an average age 67; 51 percent women.
When they joined the trial, participants provided information on their age, ethnicity, region of residence, income, education, lifestyle, weight, medical history, diet and supplement use.
Blood levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids were also measured.
Participants were then randomly allocated to receive vitamin D (2,000 IU/day) or matched placebo and were asked to report any diagnosed autoimmune disease over an average 5.3-year period.
These included rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica (pain and stiffness in the muscles around the shoulders, neck and hips), thyroid disease, and psoriasis, among others.
Over the full duration of the trial, a confirmed autoimmune disease was diagnosed in 123 participants in the vitamin D group compared with 155 in the placebo group – a 22 percent lower relative rate.
The vitamin D group had 39 percent fewer confirmed cases than placebo.
The study is the first direct evidence that daily vitamin D supplementation for five years among older adults reduces autoimmune disease incidence, with more pronounced effect after two years of supplementation.
“We are continuing to follow participants for two years in an extension study to test the time course of this autoimmune disease reduction effect,” they wrote.
“Further trials could test these interventions in younger populations, and those with high autoimmune disease risk.”