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Vitamin D levels in children may predict future heart disease risk

Posted:  Thursday, July 23, 2015

Future heart disease risk prediction in children? Yes, you read the title right! Canadian researchers in their new study found a statistically significant association between higher vitamin D levels and lower non-HDL cholesterol levels in children. The association between low vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease in adults is well known and researched. So could the newfound link be the first sign to detect future heart disease risk in childhood?

For the study, the authors collected blood samples from 1,961 children aged 1 to 5 years attending well-child visits. The children were enrolled in the Applied Research Group for Kids (TARGet Kids!) which follows children from birth with the aim to prevent common problems in early years. The results of the study were published in the PLOS ONE journal.

The children in the study recorded a mean daily cow's milk intake, the main dietary source of vitamin D, of 452 millilitres or just under 2 cups. Apart from this, 56% of them regularly consumed vitamin D supplements.

The researchers unearthed the statistically significant association between higher vitamin D levels and lower non-HDL cholesterol levels even after considering factors such as Body Mass Index, consumption of cow's milk and levels of physical activity. "Maybe the factors that lead to cardiovascular disease start in early childhood. If vitamin D is associated with cholesterol in early childhood, this may provide an opportunity for early life interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk."

Although this association is well studied in adults, it is the first time this was done so in children. So does it predict future risk? Well further epidemiological studies could lend weight to this study’s findings.

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