Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to a higher number of heart and stroke -related deaths among black Americans compared to whites, according to a new study.
In the study, blood levels of vitamin D and death rates due to cardiovascular disease where measured in more than 15,000 American adults (1). The analysis showed that a vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher rates of death among all people in the sample. In fact, those adults with the worst deficiency had a 40 percent higher risk of death from cardiac illness. This suggests that vitamin D may be a modifiable, independent risk factor for heart disease.
When researchers adjusted the statistics to look at race, blacks had a 38 percent higher risk of death than whites. As vitamin D levels rose, however, the risk of death was reduced. The same was true when researchers analyzed the effect of poverty on cardiovascular death rates among blacks, which suggests that vitamin D deficiency and poverty each exert separate risk factors.
Other at-risk people include the obese and the elderly, (particularly housebound or nursing home residents), because vitamin D levels decline with age. And although more sun exposure can boost levels of D, skin cancer is also an increasing risk to many people. Therefore, medical authorities usually recommend increased dietary intake and/or supplementation as the best way to correct a deficiency, the authors concluded.