Having high levels of vitamin D in the body is associated with reducing the risk of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43%, researchers have said.
It was found that high levels of vitamin D, through exposure to sunshine alongside a healthy diet rich in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel was found to provide adequate protection from these diseases.
Researchers reviewed 28 existing studies on almost 100,000 elderly and middle-aged people, looking at vitamin D levels and cardiometabolic disorders. Cardiometabolic disorders include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.
The studies revealed a significant association between high levels of naturally-occuring vitamin D and a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (33% compared to low levels of vitamin D), type 2 diabetes (55% reduction) and metabolic syndrome (51% reduction).
One of the authors said: "We found that high levels of vitamin D among middle age and elderly populations are associated with a substantial decrease in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
"Targeting vitamin D deficiency in adult populations could potentially slow the current epidemics of cardiometabolic disorders."
All studies included were published between 1990 and 2009 with the majority published between 2004 and 2009. Half of the studies were conducted in the United States, eight were European, two studies were from Iran, three from Australasia and one from India.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods but most vitamin D comes from sunlight, and is produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are good sources of vitamin D, and it is also available as a dietary supplement.
Research Paper Details:
Parker et al. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas, 2010; 65 (3): 225.