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At our 2019 functional medicine conference, The Science of Health, UK functional medicine practitioner Jo Gamble followed Dr Jeffrey Bland on stage to present the latest findings on natural approaches to the increasingly common health problem of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). And it’s not just adults who need to be aware of this growing health problem, as health experts have warned of a growing epidemic of fatty liver disease in young people too.

As Jo explained in her lecture, there are many underlying factors to consider for reducing risk of NAFLD, including supporting a healthy gut microbiome, gut barrier function and much more. As part of this bigger picture however, a relatively simple intervention may play a crucial role.

In a 2020 meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers explored the potential links between serum vitamin D level and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Fifteen studies involving a total of 20,096 participants were included in the meta-analysis. The results showed that NAFLD patients had lower average vitamin D levels compared with non-NAFLD subjects, that serum vitamin D level was negatively associated with NAFLD and that Western NAFLD patients were more likely to be vitamin D deficient.

The study authors concluded,

“Our results revealed that serum vitamin D was inversely associated with an increased risk of NAFLD. Patients with hypovitaminosis D might benefit from extra supplementation with vitamin D against the risk of NAFLD.”

Yet again, research highlights the importance of vitamin D, its widespread roles in optimal health overall and the potential benefits of optimising levels to reduce risks of growing health problems. It is recommended that everyone should be tested regularly to be aware of their vitamin D levels, and it is also recommended that everyone should take a maintenance dose of vitamin D throughout the cooler winter months when vitamin D production is at its lowest.

You can listen again to Jo Gamble’s excellent lecture on NAFLD at The Science of Health here.

1. Liu T, Xu L, et al. Association of serum vitamin D level and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a meta-analysis. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Feb; 32(2): 140-147

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