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Vitamin D Prevents Heart Disease: Largest study to date finds

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP

The largest epidemiological study of its kind, published in 2012 in the journalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis Vascular, Biology, byBrøndum-Jacobsen and colleagues, showed that low blood vitamin D levels was associated with as much greater risk of heart disease, heart attack and related cardiovascular mortality at an earlier age, compared to individuals with blood vitamin D levels above 50nmol/L.

The researchers measured baseline plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in 10,170 men and women from the Copenhagen City Heart Study, from 1981–1983. Participants were then followed in nationwide Danish registries to the present. During approximately 29 years of follow-up they found they found a stepwise increase in risk: those with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 40% increased risk of ischemic heart disease, a 64% higher chance of a heart attack, a 57% increased risk of early death, and an 81% higher likelihood of fatal heart attack.

They also examined 17 other studies and added their own study data to the look for trends across many studies. When pooled together they noted that risk of ischemic heart disease and early death were increased by 39% and 46% for those with the lowest 20% of vitamin D blood levels compared to those with the highest 20% of vitamin D blood levels. They concluded that blood levels of vitamin D (25-hydroxycholecalciferol) above 50nmol/L is a desirable target, in that a blood level in this range is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality.

It remains unclear as to how vitamin D may prevent cardiovascular disease, but the overall evidence suggests that it may play an important role. With respect to cancer risk, many experts suggest attaining a blood vitamin D above 75-85nmol/L, which is in-line with my recommendations. This often requires taking 1000-2000 IU per day. Your best bet is to get your vitamin D blood level tested by your medical doctor to establish your baseline level.


Brøndum-Jacobsen P, Benn M, Jensen GB, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of IHD, MI and early death. Population based study and meta-analyses of 18 and 17 studies. AteriosclerThrombVasc Bio. 2012 (

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