New research confirms low levels of vitamin D are associated with a larger rate of mortality in older adults. Additionally, the chance of reversing this impact is more likely in African Americans than Caucasians because of increased Vitamin D insufficiency in African Americans.

This study, published in The Endocrine Society’s The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM), has discovered that low levels of vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone, are linked to increased mortality in Caucasian and African American older adults.

In earlier years, there has always been an obvious interest in vitamin D and its role in preventing disease and boosting health. A previous study has even suggested that increasing levels of Vitamin D can actively prevent the risk of bone fracture. Also in the past, low levels of vitamin D have been directly connected to cardiovascular disease and cancer. In frail older adults, vitamin D has been seen to greatly increase risk of death. Many studies have been performed on persons of European descent, but this particular study focuses on the association between vitamin D and mortality in blacks and whites.

Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Transitional Science at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, and lead researcher of this study explains:

“We observed vitamin D insufficiency (defined as blood levels

During this study, 2,638 Caucasians and African Americans between the ages of 70 and 79, fasted for 12 hours, and were then given a blood test to measure their levels of vitamin D. Every six months, participants were contacted to establish their medical condition. The study calculated the relative number of deaths among participants with different vitamin D levels. On top of other health factors, time of the year was taken into consideration due to the seasonal effects on vitamin D. The investigators discovered that levels of vitamin D that were lower than 30 mg/nl were directly connected to notably increased all-cause mortality.

Kritchevsky concludes:

“We all know that good nutrition is important to overall health and our study adds to a growing body of literature that underscores the importance of vitamin D and indicates that poor vitamin D nutrition is wide-spread. The good news is it’s easy to improve vitamin D status either through increased skin exposure to sunlight or through diet or supplements.”

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald