September 21, 2009
Lower Vitamin D And Higher Heart Death Rates

Older people with lower levels of vitamin D die from heart disease at higher rates.

A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shows vitamin D plays a vital role in reducing the risk of death associated with older age. The research, just published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, evaluated the association between vitamin D levels in the blood and the death rates of those 65 and older. The study found that older adults with insufficient levels of vitamin D die from heart disease at greater rates that those with adequate levels of the vitamin.

"It's likely that more than one-third of older adults now have vitamin D levels associated with higher risks of death and few have levels associated with optimum survival," said Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine's Division of Emergency Medicine and lead author on the study. "Given the aging population and the simplicity of increasing a person's level of vitamin D, a small improvement in death rates could have a substantial impact on public health."

Older adults are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency because their skin has less exposure to the sun due to more limited outdoor activities as well as reduced ability to make vitamin D.

The skin syntheses vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. But aged skin syntheses less vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Old folks engage in fewer outside activities also get less sun exposure. Of course, there's the possibility that the lower level of outside activity is due to underlying illnesses and therefore that the lower levels of vitamin D are a result of illness which also is causing the higher death rate.

What is needed: a large prospective study on whether vitamin D supplementation lowers death rates.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 21 10:28 PM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

Nick G said at September 22, 2009 2:18 PM:

This appears to be a pretty good study: it's prospective, it's controlled, it's pretty large. What more do we want?

"The study involved 1,179 healthy women from rural Nebraska. One group of women was given calcium (around 1500 mg daily) and vitamin D (1100 IU daily) while another group was given placebo. Over four year, the group receiving the calcium and vitamin D supplements showed a 60 percent decrease in cancers. Considering just the last three years of the study reveals an impressive 77 percent reduction in cancer due to supplementation."

Randall Parker said at September 22, 2009 8:48 PM:


Thanks for that. Very impressive result. So are you taking D and calcium or thinking of starting?

Nick G said at September 23, 2009 2:54 PM:

I take 10,000 IU daily.

I was taking 2,000, but testing showed that my blood levels were too low (about 31). This seems to be a common experience.

Vanilla Thunder said at September 23, 2009 7:18 PM:

Nick, do you take vitamin D in the solid form? Or do you take vitamin D supplement pills where the D is in a liquid or gel form?

Nick G said at September 25, 2009 12:30 PM:

I take two 5,000 unit capsules - I assume they're powder.

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