Research reported in the August, 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism demonstrated a declining risk of death from all causes in association with increasing serum levels of vitamin D.
The study included 182,152 men and women insured by Israels Clalit Health Services who were 20 years of age or more at the time of blood testing for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Participants were followed for an average of 28.5 months, during which 7,247 deaths occurred.
The researchers observed a rising risk of death in association with declining levels of vitamin D. The association was observed among participants with levels considered insufficient as well as those with deficient levels. Those whose serum vitamin D levels were among the lowest 25 percent of participants at 33.8 nanomoles per liter (nmol/liter) or less had twice the adjusted risk of dying compared with subjects whose levels were highest at over 65.2 nmol/liter. The risk was slightly higher for those with diabetes compared to nondiabetic subjects.
Authors Walid Saliba of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and colleagues remark that, given the short follow-up period, the current study's findings suggest an association of reduced levels of vitamin D with disease outcome rather than on the initiation of new disease. However, they note that it is not clear whether decreased serum vitamin D is a biomarker of poor health or a direct cause of disease and mortality.
"We found vitamin D to be inversely associated with all-cause mortality, with a significant dose-response effect," they conclude. "Subjects with serum 25(OH)D levels less than 50 nmol/liter are particularly at increased risk for mortality. Randomized clinical trials to evaluate the effect of vitamin D supplementation on mortality are warranted to support these findings."
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