In previous posts I have written about the health benefits of sunlight and the vitamin D derived from it, including a reduced risk of many forms of cancer. In a recent post, I wrote about research linking higher vitamin D levels in the body with lower blood pressure ” something that would be expected to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.
This week saw the publication of a study which appears links vitamin D again reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, involved the assessment of the relationship between vitamin D levels and a range of factors thought to affect cardiovascular disease risk.
Compared to those with the highest blood levels of vitamin D, those with the lowest were found to have a 30 per cent increased risk of high blood pressure, a 98 per cent increased risk of diabetes, a 229 per cent increased risk of obesity and a 47 per cent increased risk of raised blood levels of unhealthy blood fats known as ‘triglycerides’. What these results essentially show is that higher levels of vitamin D in the body are associated a significantly reduced risk of several factors linked with cardiovascular disease.
What this study cannot do, however, is demonstrate that vitamin D per se is the protective factor. It might be, that the benefits seen are coming from some other factor or factors associated with higher levels of vitamin D.
What is required here, as the authors of this study point out, is studies in which individuals are actually supplemented with vitamin D, and their outcomes are compared with similar individuals receiving inactive medication (placebo).
We can only speculate about what the results of studies of this type may be. However, there is some evidence that vitamin D supplementation might bring benefits in combating conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) and breast cancer.
Martins D, et al. 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(11):1159-65.