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Brazilian study on SLE and vitamin D

Posted on: September 28, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


In June, 2011, a Brazilian group, led by Dr. Soto at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, studied 159 patients with mild systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Forty-five percent of these equatorial patients had levels below 30 ng/ml. However, the author found no relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and mild SLE disease activity.

Souto M, Coelho A, Guo C, Mendonça L, Argolo S, Papi J, Farias M. Vitamin D insufficiency in Brazilian patients with SLE: prevalence, associated factors, and relationship with activity. Lupus. 2011;20(10):1019-26. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

What was interesting was the authors’ review of the literature. They found seven similar studies published in the last decade finding that 3 of 7 studies did find a relationship: the higher your vitamin D level, the better your SLE. The three that were positive included the biggest study (almost 3x bigger). Another positive study included patients with severe lupus. The negative studies included only patients with mild disease. No study has compared disease activity of normal vitamin D levels (about 50-60 ng/ml) with low levels.

Also, contrary to what the “Marshall Protocol” theory predicts, none of the eight studies have found increased disease activity with higher vitamin D levels. I know a lady who keeps her vitamin D level below 10 ng/ml because she is a “believer” of the “Marshall Protocol.” Science seldom converts true believers. She has an increased risk of dying young.

The take away from these eight combined studies is that if you have severe SLE, keep your vitamin D levels around 50-60 ng/ml. If you have mild SLE, do the same so it does not become severe. Also, make sure you eat a big handful of seeds and nuts every day to get the magnesium, zinc and boron that vitamin D needs as cofactors, cofactors most Americans do not get in their diet. Also, take a vitamin K2 supplement, at least 80 mcg per day (or eat organ meats and hard cheeses) to help direct calcium to its proper location in the body.

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