In an article published online on May 30, 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the University of Minnesota report a protective effect for high vitamin D intake against the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that may predict cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes.
The current study evaluated data from 4,727 African American and Caucasians who were between the ages of 18 and 30 upon enrollment in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which was created to examine the evolution of coronary artery disease risk factors in young adults. Interviews conducted upon recruitment and during the seventh year of the study provided information on the frequency of intake of food and beverage sources of vitamin D as well as vitamin D supplement intake. Physical examinations and blood testing were conducted at various time points over a twenty year follow-up period.
Nearly 19 percent of the subjects developed metabolic syndrome, defined as having three or more of the following: high blood pressure, increased abdominal girth, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides and high fasting glucose levels. For participants whose vitamin D intake was among the top one-fifth of subjects, the adjusted risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 18 percent lower than the risk experienced by those whose intake was among the lowest fifth.
“In young adults, the dietary plus supplemental vitamin D intake was inversely related to the development of incident metabolic syndrome over 20 years of follow-up,” the authors conclude. “Our study findings contribute to the body of literature that showed a beneficial relation of serum or dietary vitamin D with chronic disease and suggest that vitamin D intake may be a potential strategy to prevent the development of adverse cardiovascular disease risk factors.”