APR 06, 2017 4:16 PM PDT

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Early Signs of Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Vitamin D deficiency and classic signs of cardiovascular disease go hand in hand, at least for overweight and obese children and adolescents, claims new study results by scientists from The Endocrine Society. For now, it’s time to define the relationship.

Credit: Minnesota Oncology

Childhood obesity affects nearly 17 percent of all young people between the ages of 2 and 19 in the United States, and obesity is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency because, explains lead author of the new study Marisa Censani, MD, “vitamin D deficiency may have negative effects on specific lipid markers with an increase in cardiovascular risk among children and adolescents.”

Vitamin D comes naturally through sunlight, and the body metabolizes it to fits its needs. These are needs like calcium management in the bones, blood, and digestive tract. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, aches and pains, and weakness, but often people with vitamin D deficiency show no signs at all.

Censani and her team conducted a large-scale medical records review of young people between six and 17 years old, one of the very first studies examining the relationship between vitamin D deficiency, lipoprotein ratios, and non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol. Both of the latter two factors are specific markers heavily tied to heart disease risk during childhood for obese and overweight children.

Lipoproteins are the vessels that escort cholesterol through the bloodstream because it cannot dissolve in the blood. There are two types of lipoproteins famously referred to “good” (high-density lipoprotein, HDL) and “bad” (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) types of cholesterol.

They found that, of the approximately 50 percent of the study’s participants who were considered either overweight or obese (BMI above 85th percentile), vitamin D deficiency was “significantly associated with an increase in atherogenic lipids and markers of early cardiovascular disease.”

"These results support screening children and adolescents with overweight and obesity for vitamin D deficiency and the potential benefits of improving vitamin D status to reduce cardiometabolic risk," Censani said.

Sources: The Endocrine Society, Vitamin D Council, American Heart Association

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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