There is debate on whether vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for major chronic diseases and premature death or whether observed associations were just confounded by general health status. Here, we review recent results from the Epidemiologische Studie zu Chancen der Verhütung, Früherkennung und optimierten Therapie chronischer Erkrankungen in der älteren Bevölkerung (ESTHER) cohort study and the Consortium on Heatlh and Ageing: Network of Cohorts from Europe and the United States (CHANCES) that suggest that vitamin D deficiency may not be a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancer but may be a risk factor for fatal instances of these diseases. Furthermore, analyses comprehensively adjusted for the health status showed that the association of vitamin D and mortality was very likely not confounded by general health status. These results suggest that vitamin D could be a marker of resilience to fatality of potentially fatal diseases. Sufficient vitamin D serum concentrations may be needed to regulate the response of the immune system when it is challenged by severe diseases to prevent a fatal course of the disease. If this hypothesis can be verified through basic research studies and adequately designed randomized controlled trials, it could have important public health implications because vitamin D deficiency is very common worldwide, and interventions could be implemented easily.
Schöttker, B., & Brenner, H. (2015, May 6). Vitamin D as a resilience factor, helpful for survival of potentially fatal conditions: A hypothesis emerging from recent findings of the ESTHER cohort study and the CHANCES consortium. Nutrients. MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7053264