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Low Levels of Vitamin D May Raise Early Death Risk: Study

But having gene variants linked to levels of the vitamin didn't affect rate of deaths from heart causes

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Having low levels of vitamin D because of your genetics may raise the risk of early death, a new study suggests.

But the risk is not linked with early death due to heart-related causes, the researchers added.

The study, by Borge Nordestgaard of Herlev Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital in Herlev, Denmark, and colleagues involved more than 95,000 white people of Danish descent in Copenhagen. The participants, who were from three different groups, had genetic variants known to affect levels of vitamin D.

The researchers also considered other factors that could affect the participants' vitamin D levels, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index (a measurement that helps determine if a person is a normal weight for their height).

By the time the study ended in 2013, more than 10,000 of the participants had died. The research, published Nov. 18 in the BMJ, found that genetically low vitamin D levels were linked with early death from any cause, but not heart-related events.

The researchers concluded that death from problems involving the heart could be due to other risk factors, and not gene variants linked to low vitamin D levels. However, the findings are preliminary and more research is needed, they noted in a journal news release.

"The clinical implication of our findings remain limited, as widespread vitamin D supplementation can be recommended only after benefit is shown in randomized intervention trials," Nordestgaard's team wrote.

Researchers at the British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre agreed, saying in an accompanying editorial that "more data are required to confirm these findings." They noted, however, several trials involving vitamin D supplementation will begin to be published in 2017.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements has more about vitamin D.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Nov. 18, 2014
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