New research published in Open Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine suggests that vitamin D levels aren’t influenced by statins use.
There is increasing evidence that statins, the primary medicinal treatment of high cholesterol, may beneficially support vitamin D status. Apart from lowering cholesterol, statins have proven beneficial in various secondary cardiovascular disease (CVD) complications, which may be facilitated through vitamin D metabolism.
Other concerns regarding CVD research suggests that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of CVD morbidity and mortality, giving greater reason to investigate this relationship.
As both vitamin D and statins appear to play a positive role in heart health, it is important to fully understand the interactions between the two so that clinicians can best implement strategies to promote optimum heart health when considering vitamin D and the various statins that are available.
To date, research in this area has been conflicting, with some showing that statins may increase vitamin D levels while some have shown no effect.
In a new study, researchers in the Department of Endocrinology in Hippokration General Hospital, Greece conducted a pilot trial to further investigate this potential association.
They aimed to explore the comparative effects of two widely used statins, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin, on vitamin D levels in non-diabetic patients with dyslipidaemia, a disorder of fat metabolism.
The researchers enrolled 52 patients through the endocrinology referral centre. The patients had elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), otherwise referred to as “bad” cholesterol, the type which clogs up arteries.
The patients were randomly assigned to Group A or Group B.
- Group A received 20mg of atorvastatin once daily for 12 weeks (n=28).
- Group B received 10mg of rosuvastatin once daily for 12 weeks (n= 24).
Ten milligrams of rosuvastatin is approximately equivalent to 20mg of atorvastatin regarding its effect in reducing total cholesterol (TC), LDL-C, and Triglycerides (TG).
The researchers wanted to establish if the statins caused any changes in vitamin D levels, circulating fat levels, C-reactive protein (CRP), and glucose metabolism after 12 weeks. They also wanted to determine if the two statins affected these markers differently.
Here’s what the researchers found;
- The increase in vitamin D levels with both statins was not statistically significant after 12 weeks (p=0.306).
- After 12 weeks, TC, TG and LDL- levels, as expected, were significantly reduced in both groups (p<0.021).
- LDL-C showed a greater reduction following treatment with rosuvastatin (47.4% vs. 41.7%), TC and TG levels were similar between groups (37% vs. 32.9% and 27.4 vs. 22.5%, respectively).
- Use of rosuvastatin showed significant decrease in insulin, with a tendency for a reduction in HOMA-IR.
The researchers remain defiant that this relationship needs to be further studied:
“In conclusion, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin did not exert a significant effect on serum 25(OH)D levels in this study. Larger, blinded trials are needed to elucidate the impact of statins on 25(OH)D levels.”
The observed insignificant changes in vitamin D levels seen in this study, coupled with previous conflicting research, warrants the need for larger, extensive studies to further elucidate this possible relationship.
Anagnostis, P. et al. Comparative Effect of Atorvastatin and Rosuvastatin on 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D Levels in Non-diabetic Patients with Dyslipidaemia: A Prospective Randomized Open-label Pilot Study. Open Cardiovascular Medical Journal, 2014.