Study links low vitamin D levels with premature death
In recent months, there has been much debate surrounding vitamin D. Some studies have suggested that a high level of the vitamin benefits our health, while others have reported that there is not enough evidence to make such a claim. Now, a new study from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine suggests a link between vitamin D deficiency and early death.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones, as well as aid cell communication and strengthen the immune system.
Researchers have long associated vitamin D deficiency with poor bone health. In fact, 3 years ago, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that low vitamin D is hazardous because it significantly increases the risk of bone disease.
But the health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency do not stop there. Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study led by the University of Kentucky, which indicated that vitamin D deficiency may damage the brain. More recent research claimed that low levels of vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of pregnancy may increase the risk of preeclampsia.
Subjects with lower vitamin D levels 'twice as likely to die prematurely'
The researchers conducted a systemic review of 32 studies that analyzed vitamin D, blood levels and mortality rates. The studies involved 566,583 participants from 14 counties - including the US - who were an average age of 55.
"This study should give the medical community and public substantial reassurance that vitamin D is safe when used in appropriate doses up to 4,000 IU per day," says study co-author Heather Hofflich.
Participants' 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were assessed. This is the main form of vitamin D found in human blood.
Results of the study revealed that participants with lower levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood were twice as likely to die prematurely, compared with those who had higher blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Furthermore, the team found that the 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level associated with approximately half of participants who were at higher risk of early death was 30 ng/ml - a level that around two thirds of Americans are already below.
"According to the National Institutes of Health, children and adults ages 1-70 should have 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day, while adults over this age should have 400 IU a day."