Harvard Heart Letter

Vitamin D, heart disease and race

Does taking vitamin D supplements prevent heart disease?

Studies conducted mainly in white people suggest that it might. But now a carefully controlled study finds that while low vitamin D blood levels are linked to heart disease in white Americans, the same is not true for black Americans.

Lower vitamin D levels have been proposed as one reason for black Americans' higher risk of heart disease relative to whites. But the report, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates this is not the case. A research team led by Dr. Ian de Boer of the University of Washington measured vitamin D levels in 6,364 adults and followed them for 8.5 years.

Low vitamin D levels were linked to a 26% increase in heart disease risk in white study participants but had no effect on black study participants. Low vitamin D also appeared to increase heart disease risk in Chinese participants but had no effect in Hispanic participants, although the smaller numbers of people in these groups make those findings less certain.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »