An introduction to Cardiovascular diseasesIntroduction

There is mounting evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) (coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, stroke).  

The primary evidence comes from cohort studies in which prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels from cases are compared with matched controls adjusted for other risk-modifying factors.  

A meta-analysis found a 33% reduced risk of developing CVD comparing high vs. low quantiles of serum 25(OH)D levels.  The mechanisms whereby vitamin D reduces the risk of CVD are thought to include anti-atherosclerotic effects, the suppression of vascular calcification, reduction of inflammation, reduction of blood pressure, and increased muscle strength.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diseases of the heart and blood vessels in general, includes coronary artery disease (blocked arteries), angina, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure (hypertension), and stroke, both hemorrhagic (ruptured blood vessels in the brain) and ischemic (blockage of blood flow by a clot).

Robert Scragg seems to have originated the ultraviolet B-vitamin D-CVD hypothesis based on the seasonal variations in CVD mortality and morbidity which decrease in summer, the higher CVD mortality in higher latitudes, and the inverse relationship between altitude and CVD mortality1.  The evidence for a role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of CVD has strengthened considerably in since 2008 with the first report of increased risk of CVD with lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level2

Page last edited: 04 May 2011


  1. Scragg, R. Seasonality of cardiovascular disease mortality and the possible protective effect of ultra-violet radiation. Int J Epidemiol. 1981 Dec; 10 (4): 337-41.
  2. Wang, T. J. Pencina, M. J. Booth, S. L. Jacques, P. F. Ingelsson, E. Lanier, K. Benjamin, E. J. D'Agostino, R. B. Wolf, M. Vasan, R. S. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29; 117 (4): 503-11.