The main source of vitamin D is its production in skin thanks to the sun. Women are more prone to low vitamin D than men – and due to differing weather conditions, concentrations vary in populations across the world.
Vitamin D deficiency is especially common among the elderly who often have less sun exposure, but it is unclear what effect the production of vitamin D has on death.
So researchers investigated the association of vitamin D with deaths from all-causes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. They paid particular attention to differences between countries, sexes and age groups.
Results show that there was no clear trend of vitamin D by age, but average levels were consistently lower among women than men. Average levels increased with education, were lowest in obese individuals and higher among subjects who exercised.
An association was found between those with the lowest levels of vitamin D and death from cardiovascular disease – in people with and without a history of the disease- and deaths from cancer in those with a history of the disease. No association was found between low vitamin D levels and deaths from cancer in those without a history of the disease.
The researchers say that death from all causes as a result of low vitamin D has “high public health relevance” and should be given high priority. They also ask whether levels of vitamin D in specific countries, different sexes and seasons “should be considered for defining vitamin D deficiency” due to its varying levels.
Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal. “Vitamin D may play an important role in cancer prognosis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2014.
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