A lack of Vitamin D could impact cardio health. 

New research from the University of South Australia has identified genetic evidence for a role of Vitamin D deficiency in causing cardiovascular disease.

The study shows people with Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from heart disease and higher blood pressure, than those with normal levels of Vitamin D. 

For participants with the lowest concentrations, the risk of heart disease was more than double that seen for those with sufficient concentrations.

Low levels of Vitamin D are recorded by an estimated 23 per cent of people in Australia. Appreciating the role of Vitamin D deficiency for heart health could help reduce the global burden of cardiovascular disease, according to researcher Professor Elina Hyppönen. 

“Severe deficiency is relatively rare, but in settings where this does occur it is very important to be proactive and avoid negative effects on the heart. For example, deficiency can be a problem for people living in residential care who may have limited exposure to sun,” Professor Hyppönen says.

“We can also get Vitamin D from food, including oily fish, eggs and fortified foods and drinks. This said, food is unfortunately a relatively poor source of Vitamin D, and even an otherwise healthy diet does not typically contain enough.

“If we don’t get any Vitamin D through the sun, this is one of the rare nutrients for which we sometimes need to take a daily supplement to keep up with the requirements.

“Understanding the connection between low levels of Vitamin D and CVD [cardiovascular disease] is especially important, given the global prevalence of this deadly condition.

“Our results are exciting as they suggest that if we can raise levels of vitamin D within norms, we should also affect rates of CVD. In our study population, by increasing vitamin D-deficient individuals to levels of at least 50 nmol/L, we estimate that 4.4 per cent of all CVD cases could have been prevented.”

The study is accessible here.