Low vitamin D linked to metabolic syndrome in seniors

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Metabolic syndrome, Insulin

Insufficient and deficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by about 40 percent, according to new findings.

According to findings presented at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego, of the 1,300 white Dutch men and women ages 65 and older surveyed almost 50 percent were vitamin D deficient, and about 37 percent of the total sample had the metabolic syndrome.

“Because the metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases,”​ said study co-author Marelise Eekhoff, MD, PhD, of VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam.

The study supports previous findings from other studies. A report in Diabetes Care​ last year showed that about 40 percent of elderly Chinese people may have metabolic syndrome, linked to insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D.

The link between vitamin D and metabolic syndrome is plausible biologically. Vitamin D deficiency has previously been linked to impaired insulin secretion in animals and humans, and has also been linked to insulin resistance in healthy, glucose-tolerant subjects.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Key findings

Eekhoff and her co-workers analysed blood samples of almost 1,300 people participating in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. People with blood levels of vitamin D (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D) lower than 50 nanomoles per liter were likelier to have the metabolic syndrome than those whose vitamin D levels exceeded 50, said the researchers.

No differences in risk were observed between men and women, added the authors. NutraIngredients has not seen the full data.

"It is important to investigate the exact role of vitamin D in diabetes to find new and maybe easy ways to prevent it and cardiovascular disease,"​ said Eekhoff.

In addition to a potential link to an increased risk of MetS, vitamin D deficiency may precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. There is also some evidence that the vitamin may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type-1 diabetes.

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