Study: Vitamin D protects against cardiovascular disease and stroke

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine” vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms: D-2 and D-3. As an essential micronutrient and derived primarily from sunlight, vitamin D is important for the development of bones and teeth and the regular functioning of the immune system.

Beyond these functions, previous studies suggest an association between low vitamin D levels and a higher likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. In a new study, researchers have found that checking vitamin D levels is helpful when assessing a person’s cardiovascular risk.

Worldwide, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death. Every year, an estimated 17.9 million people around the world die from complications related to heart disease. For context, this means that CVD is responsible for 32% of all deaths worldwide.

Previous studies show that various factors, such as several health conditions, age, family history, diet and lifestyle, combine to influence the risk of developing CVD. Using a new analytical approach, Australian researchers have discovered an additional factor that may increase a person’s likelihood of CVD.

Researchers have found evidence that vitamin D deficiency can increase blood pressure and CVD risk. However, an increase in vitamin D levels is only helpful for participants who “need” it. Additional benefits from increasing concentrations beyond nutritional requirements will be modest, if any. The results of the study are published in the European Heart Journal.

An exciting new approach

In the recent study, researchers sought to determine if there is a relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, levels and the risk of developing CVD.
Serum 25(OH)D levels are an established marker of vitamin D status. To test their hypothesis, the researchers used a specific analytical method to analyze data from the UK Biobank, a large prospective cohort study of the population from the UK aged between 37 and 73.

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Participants were recruited from 22 assessment centers across the UK between March 13, 2006 and October 1, 2009. They completed questionnaires providing general health and lifestyle information at baseline and provided blood samples for biomarker and genetic analyses.

For the study, the research team limited data analyzes to unrelated individuals who were identified as white Britons based on self-reporting and genetic profiling. After screening, the research team performed genetic testing among individuals with complete information about 25(OH)D levels. To be on the safe side, they also collected variables (including age, gender, and time of sample collection) that may affect serum 25(OH)D measurements. In total, the scientists collected this information from 295,788 participants.

What do the results say?

The researchers compared the results with those of a control group without a diagnosis of CVD. The research team also performed a secondary analysis to examine the association of 25(OH)D concentration levels with blood pressure. The researchers report that the average concentration level of 25(OH)D among the 267,980 participants ultimately studied was 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/l).

They also note that:

11.4% (32,868) of participants had a concentration below 25 nmol/l
41.3% (119,243) of participants had concentrations between 25 and 49.9 nmol/l
35.3% (101,848) of participants had concentrations between 50 and 74.9 nmol/l.
10.5% (30,314) of participants had concentrations between 75 and 99.9 nmol/l.
1.4% (4,110) of participants had concentrations between 100 and 124.9 nmol/l.
Less than 0.1% of participants had 25(OH)D concentrations above 125 nmol/l.

Further analysis revealed that people with a serum 25(OH)D level of 25 nmol/l had an 11% higher risk of CVD than people with a level of 50 nmol/l. However, it seems that the probability of occurrence of CVD decreases with higher concentration values. For example, participants with a concentration of 75 nmol/L had a 2% lower likelihood of CVD than participants with a concentration of 50 nmol/L.

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Scientists call this phenomenon nonlinear association, where a change in the value of one entity does not always correspond to a constant change in the value of the other entity. The researchers observed similar nonlinear associations in the relationship between 25(OH)D concentrations and participants’ blood pressure levels. At 25 nmol/l, they found a noticeable increase in blood pressure values ​​compared to 50 nmol/l. These results led scientists to conclude that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of CVD.

In the end, the advice that results from this study is to check your vitamin D level with your doctor. If vitamin D levels are found to be significantly low, there is now evidence to suggest that increasing this level will decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, including the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.


Non-linear Mendelian randomization analyzes support a role for vitamin D deficiency in cardiovascular disease risk. European Heart Journal

* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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