Study links vitamin D deficiency to cardiovascular disease

Australian researchers say vitamin D plays an important role in heart health

Much has been written about vitamin D in the past couple of years, especially after a study last year suggested it might lessen or prevent COVID-19. The Mayo Clinic noted in January, however, “there isn’t enough data to recommend use of vitamin D to prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or to treat COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.”

Science has shown vitamin D is vital to maintaining healthy bones and boosts your immune system. In addition, according to WebMD, there is “mounting evidence that links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system.”

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Now, research from the University of South Australia suggests vitamin D plays an important role in cardiovascular health.

The researchers, from the UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health at SAHMRI have identified genetic evidence for a role of vitamin D deficiency in causing cardiovascular disease. SAHMRI is South Australia’s flagship independent not-for-profit health and medical research institute.

The study, published in European Heart Journal, shows that people with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from heart disease and higher blood pressure than those with normal levels of vitamin D. For participants with the lowest concentrations the risk of heart disease was more than double that seen for those with sufficient concentrations.

Low levels of the vitamin are common throughout the world. Data suggests that 23% of the people in Australia, 24% of people in the United States and 37% of people in Canada suffer deficiencies of the vitamin.

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The researchers’ Mendelian study used a new genetic approach — nonlinear instead of linear — that allowed them to assess how increasing levels can affect cardiovascular disease risk based on how high the participants’ actual vitamin D levels were.

The study used information from 267,980 individuals, allowing the team to provide strong statistical evidence for the link between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease.

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