Getting vitamin D from our diet is very low, some experts suggest. For vegetarians, it is even more difficult in the absence of vitamin D from sunlight. Experts repeatedly suggest that sunlight exposure is still the best source of vitamin D. This time, more than at any point in human history, humans do not spend that much time under the sun. This is the reason why billions of people around the world have low levels of vitamin D in their blood.
In the study conducted by the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, the researchers reported that elderly people who are vitamin D deficient are more than 12 times at higher risk of heart failure. For this study, the threshold for vitamin D deficiency was defined as <30 ng/ml (75 nmol/l). The widely recognized definition of deficiency is 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/l), with the range between the two levels classified as insufficiency.
The study, which was done on 137 Brazilian elderly cardiac outpatients, revealed that deficiency in vitamin D presented a higher risk factor for heart failure compared to heart arrhythmia or obesity.
More than half of the elderly that took part in the study were at risk of heart failure and that it was strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency, first author Catarina Magalhaes Porto concluded.
The result of the study is yet another evidence of how adequate level of vitamin D is important for bone health and cardiovascular benefits among the elderly. Based on this evidence, the high percentage of vitamin D deficiency among the elderly people and its associated risk for heart failure suggest the need for vitamin D dosage recommendation especially in primary healthcare services, according to Porto.
The causal effect of vitamin D deficiency on heart failure could not be established by the researchers from the observational study. They, instead, suggested that the ability of vitamin D to suppress inflammatory response could lower the risk of heart failure. The researchers proposed that more studies are needed on vitamin D supplementation to strengthen the evidence gathered and eventually move to clinical trials.