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Researchers measured blood vitamin D levels in 9,578 German adults, aged 50 to 74, and followed this group for a median of nine and a half years. The researchers collected information on other health-related factors, including multivitamin supplement use, fish consumption, physical activity, obesity, smoking, blood levels of cholesterol and C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation in the body), and presence of kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
After accounting for these other factors, compared with people who had sufficient vitamin D levels—at least 50 nmol per liter (20 ng per milliliter)—people who were vitamin D–deficient (blood levels below 30 nmol per liter [12 ng per milliliter]) were
People with vitamin D insufficiency, classified as a blood level of 30 to 50 nmol per liter (12 to 20 ng per milliliter), were approximately 1.2 times more likely to die of any cause. The researchers noted that people with vitamin D levels between 50 and 75 nmol per liter (20 to 30 ng per milliliter), which are considered normal, had a small increased risk of death compared with people with blood levels above 75 nmol per liter.
The risk of death due to any cause was not increased or decreased for adults with blood levels between 75 and 140 nmol per liter (30 to 56 ng per milliliter).
This study is observational, and cannot prove cause and effect. Still, it suggests that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may be important for protecting the health of older adults, and the findings agree with previously published research. The study authors noted, “Our results support the importance of additional research on the potential of lowering mortality by ensuring an adequate vitamin D supply.”Try these tips to help you find your vitamin D sweet spot:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:782–93)