Low blood levels of vitamin D have again been linked to lower survival in the elderly. Writing in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, scientists from the Netherlands, Austria and the U.S. report that low blood levels of the sunshine vitamin are associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, and mortality from heart disease.
“Our results provide a rationale for future studies to test whether vitamin D supplementation reduces mortality and/or cardiovascular diseases in persons with vitamin D deficiency,” wrote the researchers, led by Stefan Pilz from the Medical University of Graz in Austria.
“These studies are urgently needed to answer the question whether vitamin D deficiency is a cause or a consequence of a poor health status,” they added.
The study used data from 614 people participating in the Hoorn Study, a prospective population-based study with men and women with an average age of 69.8. Blood levels of 25(OH)D were measured at the start of the study.
After an average of six years of follow-up, 51 deaths had been documented, 20 of which were due to cardiovascular health. People with the lowest average vitamin D levels (30.6 nanomoles per liter) were found to be at a 124% and 378% increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, respectively.
Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers note: “Apart from the maintenance of muscular and skeletal health, vitamin D may also protect against cancer, infections, autoimmune and vascular diseases, suggesting that vitamin D deficiency might contribute to a reduced life expectancy.”
Clinical Endocrinology 71(5):666-672, 2009