Danish researchers have found a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and increased risk of early death. The alarming finding is published in the British Medical Journal.
Having low levels of vitamin D in the blood increases your risk of premature death by 30-40 per cent, according to a large Danish study that was published this week in the esteemed science journal, British Medical Journal. According to lead investigator Børge Nordestgaard, Clinical Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Chief Physician at Herlev Hospital, having vitamin D levels of 30 nanomoles per liter of blood, which is 20 nanomoles below the recommended level in Denmark, increases a person’s risk of dying of cancer by 40 per cent, while increasing all-cause mortality by around 30 per cent.
“We are now able to document that having low levels of vitamin D is dangerous in itself, as it increases mortality by 30 per cent, and that is massive,” Professor Nordestgaard told Politiken, one of Denmark’s leading newspapers. He claims that this is the first study to show a causal relation between low vitamin D status and increased mortality.
Monitored for 19 years
The researchers from Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen included 96,000 participants in the study. They adjusted for factors such as smoking and drinking, alcohol consumption, weight, blood pressure, and exercise habits. In addition, 30,000 of the study participants had their vitamin D status measured. All participants were monitored for a period of up to 19 years.
Supported by earlier studies
Earlier population studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to die prematurely, but science has not been able to explain if the increased mortality was due to diseases that caused low vitamin D levels, or if the low vitamin D levels caused the diseases, and the premature death. Similarly, the studies did not show if too much smoke, unhealthy food, lack of sunshine, and too little exercise depleted levels of the vitamin and caused disease and premature death.
No matter how you twist and turn things, the recommended guidelines for meeting nutrient requirements do not seem to do their job. According to the new study, a substantial number of Danes are critically low in vitamin D, but the question is how much it will take for health authorities to change their stance on supplements. What is particularly alarming about this new insight is that, while a vitamin D deficiency may not cause problems in the short run, it can lead to disease and premature over a period of many years.
More and more people are taking vitamin D supplements already. It seems like an obvious solution, yet health authorities appear to be waiting for that final proof to endorse the use of vitamin D supplements. With the most recent study on the table, what are we waiting for?