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Genes May Play a Role in Vitamin D Deficiency

Study Shows 4 Gene Variants May Indicate Risk of Having Low Levels of Vitamin D

Rethinking Treatment Strategy continued...

"It's possible that these results could explain why some people respond well to vitamin D supplements and others don't, but that needs to be studied further since we didn't specifically examine response to supplementation," said Thomas Wang, MD, a consortium member and cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who co-authored the report. "We also need to investigate how genetic background can modify response to sunlight, whether these associations are seen in other populations, and if these gene variants have an impact in the chronic diseases that appear to be associated with vitamin D deficiency."

In an accompanying editorial published in The Lancet, Roger Bouillon, MD, from the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, writes: "Today's results only partly explain the wide variability of vitamin D status, and whether these genetically based variations modify the health outcomes in vitamin D deficiency is not known. Therefore the battle against vitamin D deficiency will probably not be modified by these new findings. We need additional studies to explain the mechanisms underlying the pandemic of vitamin D deficiency and, above all, we need a strategy to correct this serious worldwide deficiency."

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health; it helps regulate immune function, among other roles. Vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin when you are outside exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun.

Foods that naturally contain vitamin D include fish (particularly salmon and tuna) shrimp, and eggs. Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D, including milk and other dairy products, to boost overall vitamin D intake. Taking a dietary supplement containing vitamin D is also a common way to maintain sufficient vitamin D levels.

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