Strong links between vitamin D and heart disease, stroke, and death

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In a recent study, scientists found strong links between vitamin D levels in the body and risks of heart disease, stroke, and death.

The research was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and conducted by Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration/EPIC-CVD/Vitamin D Studies Collaboration.

Vitamin D is a nutrient people need for good health. It helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones.

Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect people from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break.

The body needs vitamin D for other functions too. Muscles need it to move, and nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and the body.

In addition, the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

Previous research of vitamin D supplementation for heart disease and death has generally reported null findings.

In this review, researchers aimed to examine the link between vitamin D level in the body and risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and all-cause death.

They used data from 33 studies comprising more than 500,000 people with no known history of coronary heart disease or stroke before the studies.

They focused on coronary heart disease, defined as fatal ischemic heart disease or non-fatal heart attack; stroke, defined as any cerebrovascular disease; and death of all causes.

The analyses showed strong links between lower risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, and death and higher vitamin D levels in the body.

In addition, for the people with vitamin D deficiency (vitamin D concentration <25 nmol/L), genetic analyses provided strong evidence for an association between a lower death risk and higher vitamin D levels.

The researchers also found similar but weaker links between vitamin D levels and stroke and coronary heart disease.

The team also found inverse associations between genetically predicted vitamin D levels and death risk up to around 40 nmol/L.

They conclude that lower vitamin D levels may causally affect the death risk for people with low vitamin D status.

These findings may help design vitamin D supplementation research and new disease prevention strategies in the future.

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