June 7, 2013
FRANKFURT, GERMANYCould a healthy dose of sun, fortified foods and dietary supplements protect you against the spread of the hepatitis B virus (HBV)?
Analyzing patients suffering from HBV, researchers from Germany discovered that roughly one third of the individuals were severely lacking in vitamin D (less than 10 ng/mL) while nearly half (47%) of the patients had an insufficient amount of the vitamin (between 10-20 ng/mL). Only 19% of patients had normal levels of vitamin D (greater than 20 ng/mL).
Researchers also learned patients with the hepatitis B antigen had lower levels of vitamin D than participants who did not have the antigen. Researchers noted inverse seasonal fluctuations between vitamin D and HBV, further suggesting a relationship between the two variables.
The findings were published online in Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Our data confirm an association between low levels of vitamin D and high concentrations of HBV in the blood," lead investigator Dr. Christian Lange from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital in Frankfurt said in a statement. These findings differ from previous research of patients with chronic hepatitis C, which found no connection between vitamin D levels and concentration of HCV in the blood."
HBV remains one of the most widespread infectious diseases around the world, with the World Health Organization reporting that 2 billion people have been infected with the virus. In the United States alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 1.4 million people are living with chronic HBV.
Earlier this year, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming a diet rich in vitamin D fortified food and beverages may help obese children and teens control their blood-sugar levels and reduce their risk of diabetes.
According to a fact sheet from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, some people obtain at least some vitamin D through natural exposure to the sun. Vitamin D also is available in dietary supplements and foods such as swordfish, salmon and sardines.
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