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Low Vitamin D Intake Linked to HIgh Blood Pressure

Update Date: Jun 11, 2013 01:10 PM EDT

Not getting enough sun can put you at risk for hypertension, according to a new study.

Scientists conducting the world's largest genetic study found a strong association between changes in a person's blood pressure and how much of the "sunshine vitamin" they get.

Previous studies found that vitamin D is vital for the immune system, the absorption of calcium and health bones and teeth.

After analyzing data from more than 35 studies, which involved more than 155,000 individuals across Europe and North America, scientists found that people with high concentrations of vitamin D in their blood had lower blood pressure.

The findings suggest that people who have high vitamin D intake are significantly less likely to develop hypertension or high blood pressure.

For the study, lead researcher Dr. Vimal Karani S, of the University College London, and his team used genetic variants associated with high blood pressure as markers to chart an individual vitamin D status. 

Karani S and his tea found that every 10 percent increase in vitamin D concentrations was linked to an 8.1 percent drop in the risk of developing hypertension.

"Even with the likely presence of unobserved confounding factors 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," Dr. Karani S said in a statement.

"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," he explained.

Researchers said the latest finding "strongly suggests" that vitamin D supplements or food fortification can prevent cardiovascular disease caused by hypertension.

"Our study strongly suggests that some cases of cardiovascular disease could be prevented through vitamin D supplements or food fortification," said Dr. Karani S.

"We now intend to continue this work by examining the causal relationship between vitamin D status and other cardiovascular disease-related outcomes such as lipid-related phenotypes, for example, cholesterol, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, and type 2 diabetes and markers of glucose metabolism," he added.

The latest findings will be presented Tuesday at the European Society of Human Genetics conference in Paris.

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