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Vitamin D Supplements
Could Fight Crohn's Disease

A new study has found that Vitamin D, available in a wide
range of
supplements including multi-vitamins, cod liver oil,
etc. can counter the
effects of Crohn's disease.

A team of scientists from Research Institute of the McGill University
Health Centre and the
Université de Montréal present their findings
about the inflammatory
bowel disease in the Journal of Biological

"Our data suggests, for the first time, that Vitamin D deficiency can
contribute to Crohn's disease," explained the researchers, specifically
noting that people from northern countries, which receive less sunlight
that is necessary for the fabrication of Vitamin D by the human body,
are particularly vulnerable to Crohn's disease.

Vitamin D, in its active form is a hormone that binds to receptors
in the body's cells. The team's interest in Vitamin D was originally
in its effects in mitigating cancer. Because his results kept pointing
to Vitamin D's effects on the immune system, specifically the innate
immune system that acts as the body's first defense against microbial
invaders, they investigated Crohn's disease. "It's a defect in innate
immune handling of intestinal bacteria that leads to an inflammatory
response that may lead to an autoimmune condition,"

Vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes
an antimicrobial peptide, and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the
presence of invading microbes. Both Beta-defensin and NOD2 have

been linked to Crohn's disease. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it
cannot combat invaders in the intestinal tract.

What's most promising about this genetic discovery, is how it can be
quickly put to the test, stressed the researchers. "Siblings of patients
with Crohn's disease that haven't yet developed the disease might be
well advised to make sure they're vitamin D sufficient. It's something
that's easy to do, with Vitamin D supplements. The vast majority of
people would be candidates for Vitamin D treatment."

"This discovery is exciting, since it shows how an over-the-counter
supplement such as Vitamin D could help people defend themselves
against Crohn's disease,"  reported the scientists. "We have
identified a new treatment avenue for people with Crohn's disease
or other inflammatory bowel diseases."

This study was funded by a grant from McGill University.