Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining healthy teeth and bones and a strong immune system.
Some scientists have proved that low levels of this nutrient would increase the risk of many conditions, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, or even cancer.
However, there is no scientific evidence for the positive effects of vitamin D supplements to prevent illnesses in healthy people.
A new study published in Nature Communications suggested a possible link. It was carried out by researchers at the University of California San Diego.
The finding indicates that bacteria in the gut might help with the conversion of inactive vitamin D into the active form, which can promote health.
To measure the vitamin D status in a person, scientists need to determine the number of the inactive precursor. Nevertheless, the important factor is how this nutrition is metabolized.
The study has found out that Vitamin D levels tend to correlate with the diversity of the gut microbiome. This means greater diversity is related to better health.
This correlation is still true after accounting for other related factors, including the use of antibiotics, ethnic background, where participants live, and their age.
Researchers from UC San Diego analyzed blood and stool samples from 567 men in 6 cities in the U.S. The mean age was 84 years old. They were also in excellent or good health.
Scientists identify and measure bacteria in these samples. Also, they tried to measure the amounts of 3 vitamin D metabolites.
The significant link between greater stool microbial diversity and vitamin D activation proves that better microbial diversity would contribute to better health.
The authors emphasize that the study was not able to find out whether butyrate-producing bacteria contribute to the conversion of vitamin D to the active form or whether high active vitamin D levels allow these bacteria to grow.
Also, the study cannot show that greater diversity of gut microbiome would result in better metabolism of vitamin D.
Another limitation is that most of the participants in this study were white and old males.
Also, it is important to note that up to 75 percent of them took some types of vitamin D supplement. Only 7 percent had a deficiency of vitamin D.
Therefore, the findings of this study might not be true for other groups of people. More research is still needed to reach a more comprehensive conclusion.