MONTREAL, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers say vitamin D can counter the effects of Crohn's disease.
Researchers at Montreal's McGill University Health Center and University of Montreal found vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes an anti-microbial peptide and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes.
Both Beta-defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease -- an autoimmune disorder in which a defect in innate immune handling of intestinal bacteria leads to inflammatory bowel disease.
"Our data suggests, for the first time, that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to Crohn's disease," study leader Dr. John White of McGill says in a statement.
White suggests siblings of patients with Crohn's disease who have not as yet developed the disease make sure they are vitamin D sufficient.
"It's something that's easy to do, because they can simply go to a pharmacy and buy vitamin D supplements," he says.
The study findings are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.