Low levels of vitamin D can trigger high blood pressure, according to a new study that suggests fortifying more foods with the nutrient could lower cardiovascular disease rates.
The large-scale genetic review by the University College London analyzed information from 35 studies involving more than 155,000 individuals in Europe and the United States.
"We knew from earlier observational studies that low [vitamin] D concentrations were likely to be associated with increases in blood pressure and hypertension, but correlation is not causality," said Vimal Karani S, M.D., from the University’s Institute of Child Health.
"Additionally, randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation in humans have produced inconsistent effects on cardiovascular outcomes. The whole picture was somewhat confused, and we decided to try to figure it out once and for all."
The results showed that for every 10 percent increase in vitamin D concentrations, there was an 8.1 percent decrease in the risk of developing hypertension.
Vitamin D deficiency is common and has long been known to cause bone diseases, such as rickets. But the nutrient has also been tied to a variety of other conditions in recent years.
"Our study strongly suggests that some cases of cardiovascular disease could be prevented through vitamin D supplements or food fortification," said Dr. Karani S. "Our new data provide further support for the important non-skeletal effects of vitamin D.
"We now intend to continue this work by examining the causal relationship between vitamin D status and other cardiovascular disease-related outcomes such as lipid-related phenotypes, for example, cholesterol, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, and type 2 diabetes and markers of glucose metabolism. We believe that we still have a lot to find out about the effect of vitamin D deficiency on health, and we now know that we have the tools to do so."
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