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Low childhood vitamin D linked to adult atherosclerosis risk

Posted:  Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vitamin D and its relation to cardiovascular health has been the topic of considerable interest and research. Adding to the existing body of research, a new study has found that low levels of active vitamin D in childhood were associated with subclinical atherosclerosis over 25 years later in adulthood.

The study evaluated 2,148 subjects from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. It examined the relationship between low childhood vitamin D levels and adult increased carotid intima-thickness (IMT). The results of the study were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The subjects were aged 3-18 years at the start of the study. The childhood levels of vitamin D were measured from stored serum and the subjects were re-examined at age 30-45 years. Carotid IMT was measured on the posterior wall of the left carotid artery using ultrasound technology.

They found that subjects with 25-OH vitamin D levels in the lowest quartile in childhood had a significantly higher prevalence of high-risk IMT as adults. The researchers found that this association was independent of conventional cardiovascular risk factors including serum lipids, blood pressure, smoking, diet, physical activity, obesity indices and socioeconomic status.

"More research is needed to investigate whether low vitamin D levels have a causal role in the development of increased carotid artery thickness. Nevertheless, our observations highlight the importance of providing children with a diet that includes sufficient vitamin D," said the researchers.

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