Chronic liver disease Patient friendly summary

  • There is no evidence that sunlight reduces the risk of chronic liver disease.
  • Increased vitamin D levels may lower the severity of chronic liver disease by reducing inflammation and the risk of vitamin D–related diseases such as osteoporosis.

Chronic liver disease (CLD) is the progressive breakdown and buildup of liver tissue. CLD can cause two liver diseases:

  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Risk factors

There are many risk factors for chronic liver disease:

  • Viral infections (hepatitis B and C and Epstein Barr virus)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Nonalcoholic liver disease (sometimes related to pharmaceutical drug use)

Sunlight exposure and chronic liver disease risk

There is no evidence that sunlight per se affects chronic liver disease risk.

Vitamin D and chronic liver disease

Vitamin D levels

Those with chronic liver disease have lower vitamin D blood levels due to impaired liver function. The liver converts vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to calcidiol. This type of vitamin D is measured in blood tests.

How vitamin D works

Vitamin D may lower the severity of chronic liver disease by reducing:

  • Inflammatory cytokines (a protein) and resultant inflammation
  • Other vitamin D–related diseases, such as osteoporosis, that are often found with chronic liver disease

Prevention

There is no evidence that vitamin D prevents chronic liver disease. However, those with CLD have reduced vitamin D blood levels because the liver’s ability to convert vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to circulating vitamin D (calcidiol) is reduced.

Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D, along with calcium, may help reduce the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, which often accompanies chronic liver disease because of the liver’s reduced function.

Treatment

People with chronic liver disease have impaired liver function. They require more vitamin D supplements or ultraviolet-B (UVB) light to raise vitamin D levels.

Hepatitis C is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease. According to studies, vitamin D supplements may help improve a long-term response to the virus.

Find out more…

We will be adding a detailed evidence summary on this topic in the near future.  Please check back soon to find out more.

Page last edited: 26 May 2011