Vitamin D deficiency associated with premature death, study finds

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New research from the University of South Australia (UniSA) found those with vitamin D deficiency may be at a higher risk for premature death.

The study, published in The Lancet, was led by Elina Hyppönen, PhD, MPH, MSc, director of the UniSA Australian Centre for Precision Health. For this study, researchers sought to understand the relationship between a lack of vitamin D and risk of mortality.

Researchers evaluated 307,601 records from the UK Biobank of participants aged 37 to 73. Levels of vitamin D less that 25 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) were categorized as low. The average concentration found in the data was 45.2 nmol/L.

In a 14-year follow-up there were 18,700 deaths. Researchers found the risk of all cause mortality decreased dramatically with increased concentrations of vitamin D, up to 50 nmol/L. Compared to participants with a concentration of 50 nmol/L, genetic analysis showed a 25 percent increase in all cause mortality for those with a vitamin D concentration of 25 nmol/L. Evidence of the association was also found in mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases.

The study’s authors concluded that their findings indicate a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and mortality.

“The take-home message here is simple – the key is in the prevention. It is not good enough to think about vitamin D deficiency when already facing life-challenging situations, when early action could make all the difference,” Hyppönen said in a statement.