Nov 27, 2011 10:38 PM GMT
Correlation not causation but useful to know.
D-deficiency also nearly doubled a person's likelihood of dying, whereas correcting the deficiency with supplements lowered their risk of death by 60 percent.
"We expected to see that there was a relationship between heart disease and vitamin D deficiency; we were surprised at how strong it was," Dr. James L. Vacek, a professor of cardiology at the University of Kansas Hospital and Medical Center, told Reuters Health.
"It was so much more profound than we expected."
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of illnesses, but few studies have demonstrated the reverse -- that supplements could prevent those outcomes.
Vacek and his team reviewed data from 10,899 adults whose vitamin D serum levels had been tested at the University of Kansas Hospital, and found that more than 70 percent of the patients were below 30 nanograms per milliliter, the level many experts consider sufficient for good health.
After taking into account the patients' medical history, medications and other factors, the cardiologists found that people with deficient levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from cardiomyopathy -- a diseased heart muscle -- as people without D deficiency.
Overall, those who were deficient in D had a three-fold higher likelihood of dying from any cause than those who weren't deficient, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Cardiology. Moreover, when the team looked at people who took vitamin D supplements, their risk of death from any cause was about 60 percent lower than the rest of the patients, although the effect was strongest among those who were vitamin D deficient at the time they were tested.
The study does not prove that vitamin D is the cause of the effects seen -- other factors, like disease, could be responsible both for the differences in health and the differences in vitamin D levels, for instance.