A new study presents more evidence of a possible link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.
The study found an inverse relationship between the level of vitamin D in the blood and the presence of the metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that increases the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. People with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had a 48 percent lower risk of having the metabolic syndrome than did those with the lowest vitamin D levels, the authors reported.
"This association has been documented before, but our study expands the association to people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds," said the lead author, Joanna Mitri, MD, a research fellow at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. "These include minority groups that are already at higher risk of diabetes."
Furthermore, all study participants were at risk of developing diabetes because they had prediabetes, abnormally high blood sugar levels that are not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes affects an estimated 79 million Americans ages 20 or older, according to 2010 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mitri and her co-investigators conducted the study using data from participants of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a large, now-completed study funded by the National Institutes of Health. They divided study subjects into three groups based on plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, which is the most common way used to measure vitamin D status in the body, according to Mitri. The Institute of Medicine recommends a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 20 to 30 ng/mL as adequate for healthy people.