Does Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Fatty Liver Disease?

January 5, 2017
The Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Hwan Y. Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., an experienced liver specialist at The Center for Liver and Hepatobiliary Diseases, part of The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy in Baltimore, recently addressed the question of what role Vitamin D may play in fatty liver disease. Here are Dr. Yoo’s insights…

Does vitamin D deficiency cause fatty liver? There were epidemiological analyses reporting association, not cause and effect correlation, between vitamin D deficiency and chronic liver disease including NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), along with correlation of disease severity.  As the liver is involved in production of active vitamin D metabolite, vitamin D deficiency is also noted in patients with liver disease.  However, this association was controversial, as there were contradictory epidemiological study showing no association as well.

Vitamin D, being known to have actions to include immune modulation, cell differentiation and proliferation and inflammation regulation, spurred interest in terms of treatment of fatty liver.   It is generally considered premature to recommend vitamin D supplementation for the specific treatment of NAFLD even though its role seems to be promising, until larger, randomized, placebo-controlled trials may take place to better evaluate the efficacy of vitamin D replacement and parameters of therapy in NAFLD.

Recent open access BMC (BioMed Central) Medicine reported (in 2016) “No effects of oral vitamin D supplementation on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial”. 

Vitamin D has not been discussed as a potential regimen for treatment of fatty in recent liver meetings. I do not endorse the use of vitamin D as the treatment for NAFLD, while I do not object its use as a general health supplement.

--Hwan Yoo, M.D., Ph.D.

Board Certified in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dr. Hwan Yoo diagnoses acute and chronic liver disorders and offers some of the best advanced therapies as treatment options. Dr. Yoo is highly skilled at performing various endoscopy procedures to help diagnose and treat liver and biliary diseases.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

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