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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Vitamin D status linked to cardiovascular health in childhood

We usually think of abnormal cholesterol and the health of our arteries as something we should worry about in middle or old age. However, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) begins in childhood. In some people, the disease progresses rapidly in their third decade of life. In others, it doesn’t become threatening until they’re in their 50s or 60s.

Some doctors think the initial lesion in atherosclerosis is high cholesterol infiltrating the inner lining of the arteries, while others think an inflammatory process occurs first, and the inflammatory process lets the cholesterol in.

I have written about vitamin D and arthrosclerosis before. Although I didn’t go into detail, the authors used vitamin D in an animal model to prevent and even help reverse arthrosclerosis.

Vitamin D deficiency accelerates hardening of the arteries. Posted on February 25, 2013 by John Cannell, MD

Now, Doctor Benjamin Nwosu and colleagues, working under senior author Professor Mary M. Lee, all of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have discovered that various abnormal cholesterol metabolites are associated with vitamin D levels in 8-year-old children.

Nwosu BU, Maranda L, Cullen K, Ciccarelli C, Lee MM.  Vitamin D status is associated with early markers of cardiovascular disease in prepubertal children. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul 2:1-9.

They used a prospective cross-sectional study of 45 children to investigate the relationships between 25(OH)D and glucose, insulin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and various  lipids.

Multivariate analysis showed significant inverse correlations between 25(OH)D and non-HDL cholesterol (p = 0.043), total cholesterol/HDL ratio (p = 0.028), and LDL (p = 0.016), after adjusting for age, race, sex, BMI, and seasonality. This means that they found the higher your vitamin D level, the better these markers. They found levels above 30 ng/ml were associated with better lipid levels than levels between 20 and 30 ng/ml.

No adjusted associations were seen with the other atherosclerotic markers. There were trends toward significance in BMI, CRP, and LDL-cholesterol, which are remarkable given the low number of children studied. There was a significant inverse correlation between 25(OH)D and a marker of insulin resistance prior to adjustment.

The authors concluded:

“This study showed that pre-pubertal children with 25(OH) D level of > 20 ng/mL but < 30 ng/mL had significantly lower levels of non-HDL cholesterol, TC/HDL ratio, and TG only, while those with 25(OH)D of ≥ 30 ng/mL had significantly reduced levels of non-HDL, TC/HDL, TG, and LDL cholesterol. Therefore, a 25(OH)D level of 30 ng/mL, not 20 ng/mL, is associated with optimal cardioprotection in healthy pre-pubertal children.”

This study highlights that if vitamin D does indeed prevent cardiovascular disease, it may start very early in life. This could be the case for many conditions. That is why it’s important to get enough vitamin D throughout the lifespan.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

3 Responses to Vitamin D status linked to cardiovascular health in childhood

  1. Rita and Misty says:

    I so agree that it is important to get enough vitamin D throughout the lifespan.

    Yesterday, I took time out of my busy weekend schedule to visit the supermarket for an “experiment.” I wanted to see just what foods were fortified with vitamin D…even miniscule amounts of vitamin D…and either D2 or D3…

    What’s the saying? Inquiring minds want to know….

    Well, I was severely disappointed.

    Yes, milk is fortified with some D…and it appears more often with D2 than D3.

    Some eggs are fortified, but not many.

    However, I found no yogurt, ice cream, or cheese fortified with D.

    And, much to my outright HORROR…most BABY FOODS are lacking in vitamin D.

    Dr. Cannell, I–just like you–truly believe that the prevention of disease may start very early in life. And, yes this is why it is so important to get enough vitamin D throughout the lifespan.

    My concern is that this just isn’t going to happen for mainstream society, unless some sort of action is taken.

    Look, we here all know that the IOM references 20 ng/ml as being sufficient.

    We also know that so many people here in at least the US fall below 20 ng/ml.

    This is disgraceful. It is also unethical. And, it is costly to our overall health care system for those of us motivated by dollars, and I guess we all need to be to some extent.

    I truly believe food fortification is part of the solution, and that even very small amounts of D3 placed in various dairy products and baby food would help get the population at least up to 20 ng/ml. This is a start, and it is a “foot in the door” so to speak regarding the future and higher amounts of fortification.

  2. John says:

    So true! As a generalization I believe “change” will occur with stories like this one. People are more likely to take care of their children, including unborn children, then themselves. Whenever I read about vitamin D helping an adult disease I wonder the impact of maintaining higher vitamin D levels from the earliest point of life.

  3. Rita and Misty says:

    I must apologize for my passion, and I hope that it is received in the spirit of concern and friendship…people tell me I am forceful, and this isn’t my intention here (at the moment).

    I agree that people are much more likely to take care of their children, including unborn children, than themselves.

    I agree that many, if not all, diseases get their start very early on in our lives….

    I think that the impact of maintaining higher vitamin D levels from the earliest point of life would have an tremendously altering effect upon our world, in ways we are not even contemplating at this time….

    I am dubious as to whether more stories like this one will immediately change the medical community. Stories such as this one will definitely have effect, but it will take so many more years than we can afford.

    There has to be a better way to create positive and immediate change….

    Let me pleases restate that most baby food jars I examined contained NO D at all.

    What is up with this??