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Vitamin D’s heart protective effects may vary by ethnicity

Published on

05 August 2013

The link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of heart disease seems to vary depending on race and ethnicity, with a higher risk for white and Chinese people, reports a new US study.

The observational study measured the blood vitamin D concentrations of 6,436 men and women aged 45 to 84 and documented cases of cardiovascular disease events among them over a mean of eight years (1). The participants were 38% white, 28% black, 22% Hispanic, and 12% of Chinese ancestry. The study results showed that the average vitamin D level of each group was 30, 19, 25, 27 ng/ml, respectively. While a
10 ng/ml decrease in these vitamin D levels was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease events in the white and ancestrally Chinese participants, this relationship was not seen among black or Hispanic participants.

The researchers commented that these findings suggest that the potential cardiovascular benefits of vita-
min D supplementation should be evaluated carefully across race and ethnicity. Moreover, the results would reinforce what is seen in medicine, which is a push toward personalized medicine to better understand what is happening at an individual level. The difference between the racial/ethnic groups would be most likely due to biological variations, specifically in vitamin D metabolism.


  1. Robinson-Cohen C. et al. Racial differences in the association of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration with coronary heart disease events. JAMA. 2013; 310(2):179-188.

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