Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Modesto CA

Read more about Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Children.

Joginder Singh Soni, MD
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Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Children.
Date: Thursday, August 13, 2009
Source: Pediatrics
Related Monographs: Cardiovascular Disease, Vitamin D
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Diseases of the heart and circulation are so common and the public is so well acquainted with the major symptoms that result from cardiovascular disorders that patients and occasionally physicians wrongly attribute many unrelated complaints to cardiovascular disease (CVD). It should not be a surprise that this occurs since most patients are aware that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three that cannot be changed are older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD. Additionally, three other major risk factors include cigarette smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other identified factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease include lack of exercise, diabetes, obesity, too much alcohol, increased homocysteine levels, certain infections and inflammation, estrogens, androgens, and certain psychosocial factors. The combination of multiple risk factors must also be considered.

Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine" vitamin because it is formed in the body by the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays on the skin. The fat-soluble vitamin is converted in the kidneys to the hormone calcitrol, which is actually the most active form of vitamin D. The effects of this hormone are targeted at the intestines and bones. Vitamin D is important for growth and development of bones and teeth. Vitamin D has been used in the treatment of rickets, osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, and has been found to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Vitamin D deficiency can result from inadequate dietary intake, insufficient exposure to sunlight, which reduces the body's synthesis of vitamin D, and kidney or liver malfunctions, which inhibit the conversion of vitamin D to its metabolically active forms.

It has been well documented that many young Americans are not getting adequate levels of vitamin D, but there is little information about the possible effects of low vitamin D levels on cardiovascular risk in young people. Two studies using data collected from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were simultaneously published in the journal Pediatrics. Both studies found vitamin D deficiency in young people is associated with an increased incidence of risk factors for cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke. The first study looked at the overall incidence of low blood levels of vitamin D among young Americans aged 1 to 21 in the survey. It was discovered that 9 percent were vitamin D deficient (blood levels that were under 15 nanograms per milliliter) and that 61 percent were vitamin D insufficient (levels between 15 nanograms and 29 nanograms per milliliter). The researchers then found that children with the lowest levels of vitamin D were the most likely to have higher blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and low blood levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The second study was a detailed cross-sectional analysis of data on 3,577 adolescents. The researchers found an average vitamin D blood level of 24.8 nanograms per milliliter. They also found that low levels of vitamin D were associated with cardiovascular risk factors. The 25 percent of young people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 2.36 times more likely to have high blood pressure, 54 percent more likely to have low HDL cholesterol levels, 2.54 times more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels and 3.88 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome. The researchers from both studies stressed that although these results are shocking, parents should not panic and immediately put their children on a vitamin D supplement. Parents should encourage their children to spend more time outside and to eat more vitamin D rich foods like milk, bread and other wheat products until further research can confirm the results from these studies.1,2

1 Kumar J, Muntner P, Kaskel FJ, et al. Prevalence and Associations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Deficiency in US Children: NHANES 2001-2004. Pediatrics. Aug2009.

2 Reis JP, van Muhlen D, Miller ER, et al. Vitamin D Status and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in the United States Adolescent Population. Pediatrics. Aug2009.

This information is educational in context and is not to be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Please consult your licensed health care practitioner before using this or any medical information.
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