, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 165-171
Date: 29 Dec 2009

Vitamin D and cardiovascular risk

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Vitamin D deficiency results in abnormal mineralization of bones and has resulted in prevention programs for children with supplementation when they are breast fed. Further activities of vitamin D relate to defence of microbial infections, e.g. tuberculosis, prevention of cancer, contractility of muscle cells and counteraction of congestive heart failure. Given early reports in the 1960s on deleterious effects of vitamin D supplementation in rodents, that is ectopic media ossification of arterial vessels, a pro-atherogenic function had been anticipated for humans as well. However, cross-sectional studies reveal that vitamin D deficiency in humans is associated with elevated blood pressure and propagation of atherogenesis. These contradictory findings on the progression of atherosclerosis may be reconciled by dissecting the activation mechanism(s) of vitamin D in rodents versus humans. Notably, novel findings convincingly indicate that vitamin D exerts anti-inflammatory effects. In conclusion, vitamin D supplementation in adults may be regarded as simple means with few potential side effects to prevent atherogenesis or halt its progression and combat arterial hypertension. Adjustment of vitamin D dosing regimens is required in patients with chronic kidney disease; however, prospective clinical trials are urgently needed to guide these recommendations with evidence.