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Study Shows Vitamin D Reduces Mortality

People with higher blood levels of vitamin D live significantly longer than people who have low blood levels of the vitamin, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Graz, Austria, and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers tested the vitamin D levels of more than 3,200 people who underwent a scheduled heart exam between 1997 and 2000. The average participant age at the beginning of the study was 62.

Over an eight-year time period, those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D had a significantly higher risk of dying from any cause, and of dying from heart-related causes in particular. The participants in this group had vitamin D levels between 5 and 10 nanograms per milliliter, as opposed to the recommended 20 to 30 nanograms per milliliter.

The researchers found that even after adjusting for other known mortality risk factors such as exercise habits and heart disease, the risk of dying during the study period was still twice as high for the low-vitamin D group.

"This is the first association study that shows vitamin D affects mortality regardless of the reason for death," lead researcher Harald Dobnig said.

Vitamin D is naturally synthesized by the body upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Health experts say that light-skinned people can produce enough vitamin D from 10 to 15 minutes per day of sunlight on the face and hands, while dark skinned people need approximately twice that amount.

Many people living in extreme latitudes do not get enough sun exposure to produce sufficient quantities of the vitamin, however, especially during winter months. This problem is particularly severe for those with darker skin.

Vitamin D is known to play a critical role in bone health, and has also been linked recently to improved immune health, and decreased risk of high blood pressure and cancer.

Reference Source 89
October 29, 2008

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