Vitamin D deficiency linked to higher mortality in some people: Study
Genetic evidence suggests a causal relationship between levels of vitamin D and mortality in people with low vitamin D levels, according to researchers.
In a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a team led by the University of Cambridge aimed to determine whether genetic predisposition to high vitamin D levels plays a role in one's overall health.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient thought to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Observational studies have consistently found that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing these conditions and of death from any cause.
Scientists do not know how exactly vitamin D levels might influence multiple health conditions. Some have suggested it may protect against cancer by regulating cadherins, which are proteins involved in cell-cell adhesion responsible for maintaining tissue architecture and regulation of cell growth and differentiation.
“Our investigation provides intriguing new evidence that suggests raising vitamin D levels may reduce the risk of major disease and mortality, but only for people who have low vitamin D levels,” says Dr. Stephen Burgess, lead author of the study.
“Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is important, but there appears to be no benefit in supplementation beyond a threshold level,” he adds.
A lack of vitamin D can also lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Sources include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, as well as red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
Vitamin D help protect against Covid-19
Recent studies have shown that low vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients are associated with the severity of diseases and mortality.
The nutrient, which is obtained from food and exposure to sunlight, is known to contribute to a well-functioning immune system in a variety of ways, including defending the body from invading viruses and other pathogens.