Low vitamin D levels can trigger high blood pressure, according to research presented at the European Society of Human Genetics conference on Tuesday.
Past observational studies have shown a link between low vitamin D and high blood pressure, but the current publication is the first large-scale genetic study to support the association.
Dr Vimal Karani S, from the University College London, and colleagues assessed data from the D-CarDia Collaboration, which includes data on over 155,000 participants from multiple hospitals in Europe and North America. The researchers found that for every 10% increase in vitamin D status, there was an 8% decrease in risk of developing high blood pressure. Dr Karani attributes the strength of the findings to the study design.
“Even with the likely presence of unobserved confounding factors”, Dr. Karani explains, “the approach we followed, known as Mendelian randomisation, allows us to draw conclusions about causality because the genetic influence on disease is not affected by confounding. To put it in simple terms, by using this approach we can determine the cause and effect and be pretty sure that we’ve come to the right conclusion on the subject.”
The researchers are excited by the fact that vitamin D supplementation could possibly decrease the risk of heart disease. They will be conducting further research to examine the link between vitamin D status and other heart disease-related disorders.