Vitamin D Deficiency Dramatically Raises Risk of Heart Disease and Early Death
The most comprehensive epidemiological study ever conducted of the association between Vitamin D and mortality has revealed that low Vitamin D levels are directly linked to early death from heart disease and other causes(1). Published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, the study found that individuals with the lowest Vitamin D levels compared to those with the highest Vitamin D levels, have a significantly higher risk of developing ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction (MI), fatal ischemic heart disease and MI, or dying an early death.
The study was part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, conducted by Copenhagen University Hospital (CUH) in Denmark, and involved more than 10,000 men and women. It began in the early 1980's and concluded in 2012.
Each of the participants had his or her levels of plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D tested and verified at the onset of the study. They were then followed throughout the next 30 years to monitor for all health developments.
During the course of the study, 3,100 participants developed ischemic heart disease, while 1,625 had an MI. A total of 6,747 died from these and other causes. There was a huge disparity in disease and death rates among those in the low Vitamin D group as compared to those in the high Vitamin D group. Those classified as having low Vitamin D levels had levels of fifteen nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) or less, and were compared to those with the higher Vitamin D levels that were greater than fifty nanomoles per litre. Those with Vitamin D levels in the lowest group were found to be 40 percent more likely to develop ischemic heart disease, 64 percent more likely to have an MI, and 57 percent more likely to die an early death. Most striking was the finding that those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were 81 percent more likely to die from ischemic heart disease or MI.
"People with low levels of Vitamin D have an increased risk of heart attack, of dying early from cardiovascular disease, and this is an important message," explained study author Dr. Borge G. Nordestgaard M.D. to Heartwire. "The cheapest and easiest way to get enough Vitamin D is to let the sun shine on your skin at regular intervals. There's been a lot of focus on trying to avoid people getting too much sun, but maybe this has not been balanced."
To confirm the integrity of their findings, the research team also conducted a meta-analysis of all earlier research on Vitamin D and mortality. The researchers identified 17 previous studies and found similar results. Decreased levels of Vitamin D were found to be directly associated with a higher risk of disease and death in virtually every study, proving that maintaining high Vitamin D levels is crucial for optimal health.
"The meta-analysis gives exactly the same result as our study," added Dr. Nordestgaard. "So the results are quite robust when you look at the totality of the evidence."
(1) Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Nov;32(11):2794-802
25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction, and Early Death Population-Based Study and Meta-Analyses of 18 and 17 Studies
Peter Brøndum-Jacobsen, Marianne Benn, Gorm B. Jensen, Børge G. Nordestgaard.