A new study reveals that vitamin D could extend your life

A new study reveals that vitamin D could extend your life

Softgels as a vitamin D supplement

Vitamin D is a vitamin that your body needs to maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Research has linked vitamin D deficiency to premature death.

One in three Australians are still mildly, moderately or severely deficient in vitamin D despite the fact that sunlight is the main source of the vitamin.

Now, a new study from University of South Australia provides compelling evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with early mortality, encouraging people to follow guidelines for healthy vitamin D levels.

The research that was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicineshowed that the risk of death increased with the severity of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps us maintain good health by keeping our bones and muscles strong and healthy.

Josh Sutherland, first author and Ph.D. student at UniSA, notes that although vitamin D has been linked to mortality, its causal effects have been difficult to prove.

“Although severe vitamin D deficiency is less common in Australia than elsewhere in the world, it can still affect those who are medically vulnerable, the elderly and those who do not get enough vitamin D through healthy sun exposure and dietary sources,” says Sutherland.

“Our study provides strong evidence of an association between low vitamin D levels and mortality, and this is the first study of its kind to also include respiratory disease-related mortality as an outcome. We used a new genetic method to investigate and confirm the non-linear relationships we saw in observational settings, and through this we were able to provide strong evidence of an association between low vitamin D status and premature death.”

He continues: “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with mortality, but because clinical trials often failed to include people with low vitamin D levels – or were prohibited from including vitamin D-deficient participants – it has been difficult to establish causal links.”

The Mendelian randomization study evaluated 307,601 records from the UK Biobank. Low vitamin D levels were reported as less than <25 nmol/L with a mean concentration of 45.2 nmol/L. Over a 14-year follow-up period, the researchers found that the risk of death decreased significantly as vitamin D concentrations increased, with the strongest effects seen in those with severe deficiency.

Senior researcher and director of UniSA’s Australian Center for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, says more research is now needed to establish effective public health strategies that can help meet national guidelines and reduce the risk of premature death associated with low vitamin levels D.

“The take home message here is simple – prevention is the key. It is not enough to think about vitamin D deficiency when we are already facing life-challenging situations when early action could make a big difference,” says Professor Hyppönen.

“It is very important to continue public health efforts to ensure that vulnerable and elderly people maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D throughout the year.”

Reference: “Vitamin D deficiency increases mortality risk in UK Biobank” Joshua P. Sutherland, BHSc Nut Med (Hons), Ang Zhou, Ph.D. and Elina Hyppönen, PhD, November 2022, Annals of Internal Medicine.
DOI: 10.7326/M21-3324

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.


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