Low levels of 25-OH vitamin D in childhood were associated with increased occurrence of subclinical atherosclerosis over 25 years later in adulthood, revealed researchers of University of Turku Finland.
Low levels of vitamin D have previously been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are highly prevalent among children worldwide. This study examined the relationship between low childhood vitamin D levels and adult increased carotid intima-thickness (IMT), which is a marker of structural atherosclerosis. IMT correlates with cardiovascular risk factors, and predicts cardiovascular events.
2,148 subjects from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, aged 3-18 years at baseline were part of the study. Childhood levels of vitamin D were measured from stored serum, while carotid IMT was measured on the posterior wall of the left carotid artery using ultrasound technology at age 30-45 years. It was seen that study subjects with 25-OH vitamin D levels in the lowest quartile in childhood had a significantly higher prevalence of high-risk IMT as adults (21.9% vs. 12.7%).
Study authors Markus Juonala said, "Our results showed an association between low 25-OH vitamin D levels in childhood and increased occurrence of subclinical atherosclerosis in adulthood. The association was independent of conventional cardiovascular risk factors including serum lipids, blood pressure, smoking, diet, physical activity, obesity indices and socioeconomic status. More research is needed to investigate whether low vitamin D levels have a causal role in the development increased carotid artery thickness. Nevertheless, our observations highlight the importance of providing children with a diet that includes sufficient vitamin D."
The study is published in the Endocrine Society's 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism'.