Low levels of vitamin D can kill you, according to a new study, the first to suggest a causal relationship between a deficiency of the vitamin and death. The study was published in the British Medical Journal.
Danish researchers studied blood samples and other data collected from 96,000 subjects over 40 years.
“Results have shown something completely new, for the first time, that people who have low blood levels of vitamin D, through their genes, have an increased risk of dying early on particularly of cancer, but not from cardiovascular diseases,” said Borge Nordestgaard, clinical professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and chief physician at Copenhagen University Hospital, in a video about the study on BMJ.com. (The video features a cute chicken, an egg and a tombstone with an epitaph that reads “BYE” ). “Having low levels of D because of your genetics may raise the risk of an early death,” he adds.
Genes associated with low vitamin D levels involve an increased mortality rate of 30 percent, and more specifically, a 40 percent higher risk of cancer-related deaths, according to a university release about the study.
Earlier studies suggested a relationship between low vitamin D and early death, but researchers were unclear whether the low vitamin levels were a cause of poor health or a result of it.
“This led to our current study,” Nordestgaard said in the release, “which was based on an examination of the participants’ genes — genes which cannot be explained by unhealthy lifestyles.”
In a BMJ editorial linked to the study, Naveed Sattar and Paul Welsh, both of the British Heart Foundation in the UK write about the study, "the epidemiological cliché that 'more data are required to confirm these findings' once again applies."