New research presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (16-20 Sept) reveals that vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to increased mortality, especially in younger and middle-aged people, and is particularly associated with diabetes-related deaths. We take a closer look at the groundbreaking discovery.
Starting of a discovery
The research was conducted by Dr. Rodrig Marculescu and colleagues at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. It analyzed the effects of low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25D), referred to as vitamin D levels in the blood on overall and cause-specific mortality in a large study cohort covering all age groups, and taken from a population with minimal vitamin D supplementation in old age.
The largest effect yet
Vitamin D deficiency is a widely prevalent and easily correctable risk factor for early death, and evidence for its link to mortality comes from numerous studies and clinical trials. The majority of this research to date has, however, come from looking at older populations, and the authors believe that many of the largest scale studies may have been affected by increased rates of vitamin D supplementation in old age.
Surprising findings by those involved
The study found that vitamin D levels of 10 nmol/L or less were associated with a 2-3 fold increase in the risk of death, with the largest effect being observed in patients aged 45 to 60 years (2.9 times increased risk). Levels of 90 nmol/L or greater were associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality of 30-40%, again with the largest effect being found in the 45 to 60-years-old age group (a 40% reduction in risk). No statistically significant associations between vitamin D levels and mortality were observed in patients over the age of 75.