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Lack of Vitamin D Boosts Death Risk
Date:8/11/2008

Many people aren't getting enough of the sunlight-sourced nutrient, researchers say,,,,

MONDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Inadequate vitamin D could increase your risk of death by 26 percent, a new study concludes.

Yet many people are not getting enough vitamin D, which the skin makes naturally when exposed to sunlight. A nationwide survey found that 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women in the United States were not getting enough of this vital nutrient.

"The importance of vitamin D may be underappreciated," said lead author Dr. Michal Melamed, a clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins University. "There are studies that link low vitamin D levels to the development of heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, hypertension and different cancers," she said.

The report was published in the Aug. 11 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, Melamed's team collected data on more than 13,000 men and women who took part in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Levels of vitamin D were collected in 1988 and 1994, and the participants were followed through 2000.

During more than eight and a half years of follow-up, 1,806 people died. Among these, 777 died from cardiovascular disease. Four hundred of these people were found to be deficient in their vitamin D levels.

"Those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 26 percent higher risk of death from all causes compared to those with the highest vitamin D levels," Melamed noted.

The findings in this study confirm a trend seen in other studies linking vitamin D deficiency to increased risk for breast cancer and depression in the elderly, the researchers noted. Melamed's group had previously shown that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (circulatory problems in the legs) by 80 percent.

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