Genetic study suggests causal link between vitamin D deficiency and hypertension

June 26, 2014, Lancet

New genetic research provides compelling evidence that low levels of vitamin D have a causal role in the development of high blood pressure (hypertension). The findings, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, suggest that vitamin D supplementation could be effective in combating some cases of hypertension.

"In view of the costs and side effects associated with antihypertensive drugs, the potential to prevent or reduce blood pressure and therefore the risk of hypertension with vitamin D is very attractive", explains study leader Professor Elina Hyppönen from the University of South Australia.*

There has been considerable interest in the role of vitamin D in hypertension, but until now, a direct causal link has not been shown. Results from observational studies have suggested a strong association between low vitamin D levels and increases in blood pressure and hypertension, but randomised trials have not provided consistent evidence.

This Mendelian randomisation study used genetic data from the D-CarDia collaboration, involving over 146 500 individuals of European ancestry from across Europe and North America.

Researchers used two common genetic variants that affect circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D concentrations (which are generally used to determine a person's vitamin D status), to measure the causal effect between vitamin D status and blood pressure and hypertension risk. They found that for each 10% increase in 25(OH)D concentration there was a drop in diastolic blood pressure (-0.29 mm Hg) and systolic (-0.37 mm Hg), and an 8.1% decrease in the odds of developing hypertension.

According to Professor Hyppönen, "Mendelian randomisation helps to determine cause and effect because by using genetic data we can better avoid confounding, reverse causation, and bias. However, because we cannot exclude the possibility that our findings were caused by chance, they need to be replicated in an independent, similarly powered study. Further studies using randomised controlled trials are also needed to confirm causality and the potential clinical benefits of vitamin D supplementation."*

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Shoaib Afzal and Dr Børge Nordestgaard from Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark say, "Although [this] study is an important step towards delineation of the role of low vitamin D concentrations in the pathogenesis of hypertension, much remains unknown. Confirmation of these results in independent, similarly powered studies will be necessary, as will evidence of a corresponding benefit for the prevention of diseases caused by hypertension such as stroke. Finally, randomised intervention trials will be needed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can be used to prevent or treat before such a strategy can be used clinically."

Explore further: Genetic research clarifies link between hypertension and vitamin D deficiency

More information: The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, … (14)70113-5/abstract

Related Stories

Genetic research clarifies link between hypertension and vitamin D deficiency

June 10, 2013
Low levels of vitamin D can trigger hypertension, according to the world's largest study to examine the causal association between the two. Although observational studies have already shown this link, a large-scale genetic ...

Vitamin D supplements may help African Americans lower blood pressure

March 13, 2013
Vitamin D supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in the first large controlled study of African-Americans, researchers report in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

New analysis suggests that further trials of vitamin D have little chance of showing health benefits

January 23, 2014
A new study concludes that evidence is lacking for substantial health benefits of vitamin D—and that results of several multi-million-dollar trials currently underway are unlikely to alter this view.

Vitamin D supplementation does not appear to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension

August 12, 2013
Vitamin D supplementation does not appear to improve blood pressure or markers of vascular health in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension (a common type of high blood pressure), according to a study by Miles ...

Further doubt cast on benefit of vitamin D supplementation for disease prevention

December 5, 2013
A comprehensive review of the evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels are not a cause but a consequence of ill health, casting strong doubt on the value of vitamin D supplements to protect against acute and chronic disorders ...

Remember parathyroid hormone as well as vitamin D to assess vitamin's role in diabetes

May 29, 2014
Combined assessment of parathyroid hormone along with vitamin D may be needed to assess the impact of vitamin D status on sugar metabolism, according to Toronto researchers. Their study is published on-line in Diabetes on ...

Recommended for you

Early studies of male birth-control pill show promise

March 23, 2018
Well, well, well. The ball has been knocked roundly into your court, gentlemen.

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

Tai chi as good as or better than aerobic exercise for managing chronic pain

March 21, 2018
The ancient martial art of tai chi has similar or greater benefits than aerobic exercise for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Study: Poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but it brings other economic woes

March 21, 2018
A team of researchers led by an MIT economist has found that medical expenses account for roughly 4 percent of bankruptcy filings among nonelderly adults in the U.S.

Study finds bad sleep habits start early in school-age children

March 21, 2018
Bad sleep habits in children begin earlier than many experts assume. That's the takeaway from a new study led by McGill University researchers. The findings suggest that official sleep guidelines for young school children ...

Medical expansion has improved health—with one exception

March 21, 2018
While Americans debate the rising cost of health care, a new study of 30 countries over 27 years found that medical expansion has improved overall health - with one major exception.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.