A Finnish study, begun in 1980 has been published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The study found that vitamin D deficiency in childhood may be linked to hardening of the arteries in middle age.
Begun in 1980, the study looked at 2,148 children aged 3 to 18. All underwent periodic physical exams, including measures of serum vitamin D levels, blood pressure, lipid levels, diet, smoking and physical activity. The participants were examined up to age 45.
A vitamin D level of between 30 to 50 is generally considered adequate. Children in the lowest one-quarter for vitamin D levels were nearly twice as likely to have thickening of the carotid artery as those in the other three quarters. The association persisted after adjusting for age, sex, and other cardiovascular risk factors.
“There’s a lot of data showing that vitamin D insufficiency is bad for health,” said the lead author, Dr. Markus Juonala, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Turku in Finland. “We found evidence that it is connected to artery health as well.
The authors acknowledge that they found associations only with the condition of arteries, not with heart problems or stroke. “The findings say nothing about cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Juonala said. “We don’t know about that yet.”