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Study: Low Vitamin D Levels

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Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Death from Cardiovascular, All Causes

CHICAGO – Individuals with lower blood levels of vitamin D appear to have an increased risk of death overall and from cardiovascular causes, according to a report in the June 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A recent consensus panel estimated that about 50 percent to 60 percent of older individuals in North America and the rest of the world do not have satisfactory vitamin D status, and the situation is similar for younger individuals, according to background information in the article. Blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a measure of blood vitamin D levels, lower than 20 to 30 nanograms per milliliter have been associated with falls, fractures, cancer, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. These effects are thought to be mediated by the compound 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is produced by the body and also converted from 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Harald Dobnig, M.D., of Medical University of Graz, Austria, and colleagues studied 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels in 3,258 consecutive patients (average age 62 years) who were scheduled for coronary angiography testing at a single medical center between 1997 and 2000.

During about 7.7 years of follow-up, 737 (22.6 percent) of participants died, including 463 (62.8 percent) who died of cardiovascular causes. Death rates from any cause and from cardiovascular causes were higher among individuals in the lower one-half of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the lowest one-fourth of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels. These associations remained when the researchers accounted for other factors, including coronary artery disease, physical activity level and co-occurring diseases.

Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels also were correlated with markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein, as well as signs of oxidative (oxygen-related) damage to cells, the authors note.

“Apart from the proved effects that vitamin D has on bone metabolism and neuromuscular function, appropriate serum levels (that may also be higher than in the present investigation) are associated with a decrease in mortality,” they conclude. “Although not proved, it seems possible that at least part of this effect may be due to lowering of a risk profile promoting atherosclerosis [narrowing of the arteries] and preventing cardiovascular end points.”

“Based on the findings of this study, a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 20 nanograms per milliliter or higher may be advised for maintaining general health.”

(Arch Intern Med. 2008;168[12]:1340-1349. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: The LURIC study has received unrestricted grants from Sanofi-Aventis, Roche, Dade Behring and AstraZeneca. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

(NewsWise, Medical News, Source AMA, June 23, 2008)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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Thanks for the posting, Barb.

I've been taking Vitamin D supplements ever since they diagnosed my (Prednisone-induced) osteoporosis, but as the article points out, there are lots of other reasons for ensuring that one's Vitamin D levels are high, and besides those listed in the article are both insomnia and depression (each of which are Quality of Life factors, I might add :D) ... which reminds me that I'm supposed to be working off line today on my new "Quality of Life DOUBLES Survival Rate" series (I have to work off line or I'll get distracted by emails and postings and will never finish! :D).

Thanks again and have a good day!


PS The best way to get Vitamin D isn't supplements, but 45 minutes of sun daily. And in fact, you don't need (or want) to sunbathe to get that sun... catching sun on even a spot on your skin as small as a quarter for 45 minutes a day will do it!

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  • 2 months later...

When I was diagnosed, I found this article and others suggesting that the vitamin D level in your body has a big effect on surviving lung cancer and the odds of it recurring.

I live in Texas, and my two main hobbies are cycling and fishing, so I figured that I got plenty of vitamin D from the sun most of the year, but it was November and I knew my surgery would be some time in December (several studies like the one cited in this article noted that the lung cancer survival rate was much better after summer surgery than after winter surgery), so I started taking a vitamin D supplement right away, and will continue to do so during the months of less sun from now on. It's one of those things that may not be proven for many years, but there was enough evidence to convince me.

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