Children deficient in vitamin D may die from heart disease later in life… why won’t doctors recommend this low-cost nutrient?
01/17/2019 // Russel Davis // Views

Not getting enough sunlight may significantly increase the odds of future heart disease in obese children, a recent study revealed. Researchers pooled data from medical records of children and teens aged between six and 17 years. The researchers assessed the participants' total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, low-density lipoprotein, and non-HDL cholesterol. Study data showed that participants suffering vitamin D deficiency had increased levels of atherogenic lipids and markers of early heart disease than those who had adequate vitamin D levels. The study is among the first to find a correlation between low vitamin D levels and increased risk of cardiovascular disease in children and teens.

"Pediatric obesity affects 17 percent of infants, children, and adolescents ages two to 19 in the United States, and obesity is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency. These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency may have negative effects on specific lipid markers with an increase in cardiovascular risk among children and adolescents. These results support screening children and adolescents with overweight and obesity for vitamin D deficiency and the potential benefits of improving vitamin D status to reduce cardiometabolic risk," said lead author Dr. Marisa Censani, Science Daily reports.

The findings were presented at the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

However, a report by the Institute of Medicine maintained that health claims about vitamin D's benefits remain inconsistent and conflicting. The report also stressed that most North Americans get more than enough vitamin D. An expert analysis by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) also weighed in on the buzz about increased vitamin D supplement intake, emphasizing that evidence about vitamin D's role in cardiovascular health does not equate to causation. According to the ACC, real causal relationship requires consistency, dose response, and biological plausibility.


The skin can produce vitamin D when exposed to UV rays during spring and summer. However, most people depend on diet -- primarily from oily fish, red meat, and fortified foods -- to attain adequate vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D supplementation may counter heart risks

Taking vitamin D supplements may help stave off cardiovascular risks associated with the nutrient deficiency, various studies show.

In a 2016 study, British researchers examined more than 160 patients with heart failure and classified them in two groups: one group received daily vitamin D supplements, while the other took a placebo. Study data showed that heart failure patients who took vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in ejection fraction (the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts) from 26 percent to 34 percent. Patients in the placebo group did not exhibit the same improvements. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo in Chicago, Illinois.

Another study revealed that giving vitamin D supplements may help improve cardiac function in elderly patients with heart failure. Study data showed that patients in the intervention group displayed significant improvements in ejection fraction after six months of treatment. No significant change was seen in patients who took a placebo pill. The findings were published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Aside from mitigating cardiovascular risks, various studies have also touted vitamin D's role in keeping cancer at bay. A study by Creighton University researchers found that healthy post-menopausal women who took vitamin D supplements were 30 percent less likely to develop cancer compared with those in the control group. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Another study revealed that vitamin D supplements may help improve survival in lung cancer patients. Researchers examined 456 patients with early-stage lung cancer and found that patients with the highest vitamin D levels had a 77 percent five-year survival, compared with only 29 percent in those who had the lowest levels. The results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference.

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