It is becoming clear that adults who get too little vitamin D are at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease. Now, it appears vitamin D levels also affect these risks earlier in life, say Johns Hopkins researchers Jared P. Reis, PhD, and colleagues.
The researchers analyzed data from 3,577 adolescents aged 12 to 19 enrolled in National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 2001 through 2004.
- Fourfold greater risk of metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors for diabetes
- 2.54 times greater risk of high blood sugar
- 2.36 times greater risk of high blood pressure
Black teens averaged about half the vitamin D levels seen in white teens (15.5 ng/mL vs. 28.0 ng/mL).
"We believe clinical trials designed to determine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on heart disease risk factors in adolescents should be conducted before recommendations can be made for vitamin D in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," Reis says in a news release.
How much vitamin D is enough? That's still being debated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently suggested a daily intake of 400 IU. But some experts say children and teens need more than 1,000 IU of vitamin D every day.
"We are just now starting to understand the role that vitamin D may play in cardiovascular health," Reis says.
Reis reported the findings at this week's American Heart Association meeting in Palm Harbor, Fla.