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Vitamin D helps prevent liver cirrhosis

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Sat. Aug 24, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A case-control study in Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi  (Great China Journal of Liver  Diseases) suggests that maintaining a healthy serum vitamin D level can help prevent liver cirrhosis, a precursor to more severe liver diseases such as liver cancer.

L. L. Yu from School of public Health, Chongqing Medical University in China and colleagues conducted the study and found men and women who had the highest serum levels of vitamin D were 65% reduced risk of liver cirrhosis, compared with those who had the lowest levels.

Liver cirrhosis can be caused by drinking alcohol and hepatitis viral infections and the liver disease can progress to cause liver cancer in some cases.

For the study, researchers compared 282 individuals diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and 564 healthy controls for serum vitamin D levels and also hepatitis B virus surface antibody.
Individuals with liver cirrhosis were found to have a significantly lower concentration of 25(OH)D, the form of vitamin D tested, than the controls and there was an inverse association between the serum vitamin D levels and the risk of the disease.  

Specifically, those with lowest levels of vitamin D were almost 65% more likely to be diagnosed with liver cirrhosis, compared with those who had the highest levels, and the risk remained the same even after adjustment for other potential risk factors such as hepatitis B virus antibody.
The researchers concluded "Risk of liver cirrhosis increases as 25(OH)D serum concentration decreases. Vitamin D might function as a protective factor against development of cirrhosis."

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with more than 100 health conditions including heart disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, depression, and many forms of cancer.

Exposure of the skin to the sun leads to the biosynthesis of vitamin D.   Vitamin D may be found in some mushrooms and fatty fish.    The vitamin is also added to some foods such as milk.  But the added vitamin D is at such a very low dose that people may need to drink 20 glasses of milk to get sufficient vitamin D.  Another major source of vitamin D for those who are not exposed to the sun often is vitamin D supplements.  Vitamin D drops should be preferred over other forms of dietary supplements because they do not contain potentially harmful fillers. (Jimmy Downs)

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