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Does Vitamin D Affect Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Young Women?

Researchers reviewed data on the possible relationship between vitamin D levels, cholesterol levels, body composition, and blood pressure in young women.

Vitamin D is an important vitamin known mostly for its work with calcium in maintaining bone health. Vitamin D is also involved in other processes in the body such as immune function, muscle function, and inflammation reduction. It is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. Vitamin D can also be obtained from a few food sources and supplements.

Previous research has shown that high levels of vitamin D in the body is associated with high levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or “bad” cholesterol).  HDL, LDL, and triglycerides are types of cholesterol found in the body. Low levels of LDL, triglycerides and high levels of HDL are necessary for good health and reduce cardiovascular risk.

Body composition includes measurement of abdominal visceral fat, total fat mass and body fat percentage. Visceral fat is found around the internal organs and affects cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.

An Australian study recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the association between vitamin D, body composition, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure in young women. There were 557 women included in the study who were between the ages of 16 and 25 years and lived in Victoria, Australia.

The results show that an increase of 10 nmol/L in 25 OHD levels (a measure of Vitamin D in the blood) was associated with a slight increase in HDL (0.65%) and triglyceride (0.92%) levels. This increase in Vitamin D levels was also associated with a reduction in body mass index (0.48%), lower fat percentage (0.5%), and lower visceral fat percentage (0.14%). There was no significant difference observed in blood pressure readings. The results of this study cannot be applied to the rest of the population, as only women within a small age range were included in the study.

Due to the small differences observed in the results of the study, more research is required to determine the clinical significance of these findings. The results of the study are not sufficient to conclude on an association between vitamin D levels and cardiovascular risk in young women. Vitamin D continues to play a vital role in the body and it is essential we ensure we meet the recommended daily intake through appropriate sun exposure, food, and supplements.                                                                

Written by Anuolu Bank-Oni, Pharm.D, CDE, BCGP

References:

(1) Tabesh M et al. Associations between 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, body composition, and metabolic profiles in young women. 2018. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi.org/10.1038/s41430-018-0086-1
(2) National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional. Accessed January 31, 2018

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