The Role of Vitamin D in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Mechanism to Management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Nutrition Nurses, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Mindelsohn Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH 1, UK.
  • Gastroenterology Department, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Mindelsohn Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2WB 2, UK.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Institute of Translational Medicine and NIHR Biomedical Research Center, University of Birmingham, Office 04, Ground Floor, ITM, North Block, Heritage Building, Mindelson Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TH, UK.
  • Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


Vitamin D has been linked to human health benefits that extend far beyond its established actions on calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. One of the most well studied facets of extra-skeletal vitamin D is its activity as an immuno-modulator, in particular its potent anti-inflammatory effects. As a consequence, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Low serum levels of the major circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) are significantly more prevalent in patients with IBD, particularly in the winter and spring months when UV-induced synthesis of vitamin D is lower. Dietary malabsorption of vitamin D may also contribute to low serum 25(OH)D in IBD. The benefits of supplementation with vitamin D for IBD patients are still unclear, and improved vitamin D status may help to prevent the onset of IBD as well as ameliorating disease severity. Beneficial effects of vitamin D in IBD are supported by pre-clinical studies, notably with mouse models, where the active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25-(OH)2D) has been shown to regulate gastrointestinal microbiota function, and promote anti-inflammatory, tolerogenic immune responses. The current narrative review aims to summarise the different strands of data linking vitamin D and IBD, whilst also outlining the possible beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation in managing IBD in humans.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1019
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2019


  • Crohn’s disease, Deficiency, IBD, Supplementation, Ulcerative colitis, Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas