Vitamin D deficiency not guilty

23 June 2015        

a picture of the scottish highlands, with a lake in the foreground and mountains in the background.

The belief that vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunshine – like childhood rickets a hundred years ago – causes increased heart disease and deaths in winter has been challenged by research from the University of Dundee.

The research, led by Emeritus Professor Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe, suggests that vitamin D is unimportant in cardiovascular disease and winter deaths, whatever its role in other diseases. 

Our Associate Medical Director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, said: “We’ve known for many years that a low level of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but it was not clear whether lack of vitamin D directly caused the increased risk or is a consequence of other factors.

“The long-term Scottish Heart Health Study, which the BHF helped to fund, has provided a series of valuable insights over the years and they have now shown that low vitamin D is a result of other risk factors, rather than a cause of increased risk.

“The research team were able to use the large seasonal variation in vitamin D levels in the Scottish population in their study, which strongly supports the conclusions from other independent genetic studies”

We’re the leading funder of cardiovascular research at Scottish universities and fund over £56 million of research across the country. We have two Centres of Research Excellence in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow.

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