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Low Levels of Vitamin D May Have Severe Health Consequences

Two separate studies recently found that low levels of vitamin D may be dangerous for diabetics and may also lead to metabolic syndrome in the elderly.

The results of the two studies were presented at the Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego the week of June 19th, 2010.

The first study included 124 type 2 diabetics between 36-89 years of age. Researchers with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that 90% of the diabetic patients had low levels of vitamin D.

They also found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D had significantly higher levels of circulating glucose. Levels of circulating glucose indicate how well controlled diabetes is in an individual.

The second study was conducted by researchers at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and included 1,300 Dutch men and women aged 65 and older. The researchers found that approximately 50% of the participants were vitamin D deficient and 37% had metabolic syndrome.

They also observed that the participants that were vitamin D deficient had a much higher likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by central obesity, hypertension and disturbed insulin and glucose metabolism. People suffering from metabolic syndrome are at a much higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and suffering a heart attack.

The American Heart Association defines metabolic syndrome as having three or more of the following:

1. A waistline greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women

2. Good (HDL) cholesterol under 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women

3. Triglyceride levels over 150mg/dL

4. Blood pressure over 130/85mm Hg or the use of blood pressure medicine

5. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein

6. Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance

It is very important to pay attention to your vitamin D intake, especially as you get older and your skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin. Vitamin D has been shown in previous studies to be important for maintaining your mood, keeping your immune system strong as well as reducing blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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