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May 2013

Vitamin D May Affect All-Cause and Heart Disease-Related Mortality

Vitamin D levels may be linked to lower all-cause and heart disease-related mortality, a study reports.

Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources, such as fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil. The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies. The term "vitamin D" refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3.

According to the Institute of Medicine, a vitamin D level of 20 nanograms per milliliter is considered adequate, while levels of greater than 50 nanograms per milliliter could have potential negative effects. This level can be achieved through substantial daily skin exposure to sunlight.

In the current study, the researchers evaluated the possible link between vitamin D levels and mortality from all causes as well as from heart disease. They analyzed data from 10,170 healthy adults over age 18 who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2004, and also looked at the National Death Index through December 2006.

During the average 3.8 years of follow-up, a total of 509 all-cause deaths and 184 heart disease-related deaths occurred in the studied population. The results suggested that vitamin D levels of 21 nanograms per milliliter or less were associated with reduced risk of all-cause and heart disease-related mortality.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D levels may affect the risk of death from all causes and from heart disease. However, more information is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Numerous integrative therapies have been evaluated for their potential benefits on heart disease. Beta-glucan, beta-sitosterol, folate, garlic, guar gum, konjac glucomannan, niacin, fish oil, plant sterols, psyllium, red yeast rice, and soy have all been studied and are all supported by strong scientific evidence for this purpose.

For more information about vitamin D, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Amer M, Qayyum R. Relationship between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and All-cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality. Am J Med. 2013 Apr 17. pii: S0002-9343(13)00084-3. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.11.021. [Epub ahead of print] 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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