Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Health Center

Font Size

Heart Dangers of Low Vitamin D Levels May Vary

Study found whites, Asians more affected than blacks, Hispanics

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Denise Mann

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- The heart risks of having low levels of vitamin D may hinge on what race or ethnicity you are, new research suggests.

Specifically, the team of scientists found it might increase heart disease risk among white or Chinese individuals, but it does not seem to pose any cardiovascular danger to black or Hispanic adults.

"We think that the differences are mainly due to biologic differences in vitamin D metabolism between race [and] ethnicity groups. However, future studies are needed to more carefully examine these potential differences," said study author Cassianne Robinson-Cohen, of the University of Washington, in Seattle. "Our results suggest that we should use caution in extrapolating results from studies conducted in European Americans to all race [and] ethnicity groups."

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because the human body produces it when exposed to the sun's rays. In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a host of illnesses, including heart disease, certain cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and some autoimmune disorders. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 international units (IU) per day for everyone aged 1 to 70 and 800 IU a day for adults older than 70.

In the study, researchers measured vitamin D levels among more than 6,400 people of different ethnic backgrounds. None had evidence of heart disease when the study began.

After more than eight years of follow-up, 361 participants had had a heart attack or another heart-related event. White people were 26 percent more likely to experience a heart-related event for every drop in vitamin D levels of 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL), and Chinese people showed a 67 percent higher risk for the same drop. However, the same relationship was not seen among black and Hispanic people in the study.

Dr. Keith Norris, an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, co-wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

"This study brings up some interesting ideas about vitamin D and heart disease, and how it may differ in different populations," he said.

Today on WebMD

hdl letters stacked up
How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
heart rate
What’s normal? What’s not?
Lower Cholesterol 02
Heart Foods Slideshow
Compressed heart
doctor looking at xrays
Heart Disease And Ed
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
Wide Awake For Heart Surgery