Vitamin D Levels Associated with Risk of the Metabolic Syndrome

Higher vitamin D levels correlate with lower risk of metabolic syndrome in older individuals, according to a new study published in March 2015. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C).

The researchers evaluated 3,240 middle-aged and elderly adults with a median age of 71.2 years who did not have type 2 diabetes mellitus at the beginning of the study. The investigators assessed serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels as well as components of metabolic syndrome including serum glucose, triglycerides (TG), HDL-C, waist circumference (WC), and blood pressure.

Higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were associated with a significant decrease in risk of metabolic syndrome. In fact, adequate levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (75 nmol/l or greater) correlated with a 39% decreased risk of metabolic syndrome compared to vitamin D deficiency (less than 50 nmol/L).

In addition, adequate vitamin D levels were associated with a 34% decreased risk of increased waist circumference, a 33% decreased risk of low HDL cholesterol, a 31% decreased risk of elevated triglycerides, and a 20% decreased risk of elevated fasting blood sugar compared to subjects with deficient vitamin D levels.

The study authors concluded, “Higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in the elderly are associated with lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and, in particular, with more beneficial HDL-C, TG, WC, and serum glucose. Since the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide and its risk increases with age, if causality is proven, benefits of improving vitamin D status among the elderly may be great.”


Vitezova A, et al. Eur J Endocrinol. 2015;172:327-35.

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