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Vitamin D Associated with Reduced Cardiovascular Risk

  • Low Vitamin D Associated with 98% Higher Diabetes Risk

A report published in the June 11, 2007 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that having higher serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and elevated triglyceride levels, all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard examined data obtained from 7,186 men and 7,902 women enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), conducted from 1988 through 1994. Blood samples were tested for serum vitamin D, cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose and other factors, and height, weight, body mass index, and blood pressure were determined. Interviews with the subjects confirmed pre-existing diabetes and hypertension.

Mean serum vitamin D levels, particularly in women, people aged 60 and older, and minorities, were well below the recommended national goal. The team found significant relationships between lower vitamin D levels and the presence of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Participants whose vitamin D levels were in the lowest one-fourth of the study population had a 30 percent greater risk of hypertension, a 98 percent higher risk of diabetes, more than double the risk of obesity, and a 47 percent greater risk of having high serum triglyceride levels than subjects whose vitamin D levels were in the top 25 percent.

The study is the first, to the authors' knowledge, to show a significant association between reduced vitamin D levels and risk factors for cardiovascular disease risk factors in a nationally representative sample. They conclude that "Prospective studies to assess a direct benefit of cholecalciferol (vitamin D) supplementation on cardiovascular disease risk factors are warranted."


David Martins; Myles Wolf; Deyu Pan; Ashraf Zadshir; Naureen Tareen; Ravi Thadhani; Arnold Felsenfeld; Barton Levine; Rajnish Mehrotra; Keith Norris; Prevalence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors and the Serum Levels of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the United States: Data From the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:1159-1165.

Key concepts: Vitamin D, cardiovascular risk, diabetes risk, obesity risk