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Lack of vitamin D is lethal

Danish researchers have demonstrated that low levels of vitamin D may cause disease.

People with low blood levels of vitamin D are more prone to diseases that cause premature death compared with those who have sufficient levels of the vital nutrient.

This is the result of Danish research published in the esteemed science journal, British Medical Journal.

“We can document that low levels of vitamin D alone are harmful. They increase mortality by 30 per cent – and that is alarming,” says Børge Nordestgaard, Clinical Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Chief Physician at Herlev Hospital. He conducted the research in collaboration with, among others, Shoaib Afzal, MD.

Vitamin D deficiency increases mortality

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority recommends that Danes have at least 50 nanomoles of vitamin D for each liter of blood. According to the new study, a person with only 30 nanomoles per liter is 40 per cent more likely to die of cancer than someone with the recommended levels. Total mortality is increased by 30 per cent with the low levels.

According to Professor Nordestgaard, this study is the first to show a causal relation between vitamin D deficiency and increased mortality. “This is something completely new,” he points out.

Using a special gene analysis on 96,000 Danes from the so-called Herlev-Osterbro cohort, the researchers from Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen were able to demonstrate the causal relation. They adjusted for factors such as smoking and drinking, alcohol consumption, weight, blood pressure, and exercise habits. In addition, 30,000 of the study participants had their vitamin D status measured. All participants were monitored for a period of up to 19 years.

Earlier studies where doctors merely studied large population groups have demonstrated that people with low vitamin D levels often die at an earlier age. However, scientist have not been able to account for the actual cause or effect. Was the increased mortality a result of diseases that cause low levels of vitamin D? Or did the low vitamin D levels cause diseases that resulted in premature death? Or, as a third possibility, was it too much smoking, unhealthy food, lack of exercise, and too little sunlight that caused these diseases and the early death and the lower vitamin D levels?