Vitamin D deficiency linked to higher risk of cardiovascular, cancer death

July 3, 2014 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Vitamin D deficiency linked to higher risk of cardiovascular, cancer death

A vitamin D boost may prevent early death from heart disease and cancer, according to a large scale study by Mount Sinai Medical Center and international collaborators. Analysis of pooled data showed a strong association between low vitamin D blood levels and risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, death in from cancer, at least in older people with a history of cancer.

Past studies have linked Vitamin D to protection against many health problems, including hypertension, diabetes and bone loss.

The skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, and we also take it in through dietary sources like fortified milk and oily fish, as well as supplements. Deficiency is most common in the elderly, who get less sun.

The current study results argue that those deficient in vitamin D are more likely to die before those who are not.

Researchers analyzed data from eight European and American studies that included 26,018 men and women aged 50-79 years. Follow-up analysis showed that 6,695 participants died during the studies, including 2,624 from cardiovascular diseases and 2,227 from cancer.

Comparison of the lowest and the highest blood levels of vitamin D in the deceased showed those with the lowest concentrations had nearly double the risk of overall death as those with high blood concentrations. The risk for cardiovascular and cancer deaths in those with a cancer history were similar.

Despite varying levels of vitamin D between country, gender and season of blood draw, the association between low levels of vitamin D and death was consistent.

"If our results are confirmed in additional studies, it could lead to recommendations for greater vitamin D supplementation in foods, and to a better understanding of its role in cancer prognosis”, said the lead researcher.

Source: BMJ, 2014.

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