Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Vitamin D deficiency has been identified as a potential risk factor for a number of diseases unrelated to the classical skeletal pathophysiology, such as cancer and CVD, but the effects of vitamin D supplementation are less clear. Purpose of this narrative review is to discuss the evidence suggesting an association between vitamin D status and CVD as well as the results of supplementation studies.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with CVD risk factors such as hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellitus as well as with cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure. While vitamin D deficiency might contribute to the development of CVD through its association with risk factors, direct effects of vitamin D on the cardiovascular system may also be involved. Vitamin D receptors are expressed in a variety of tissues, including cardiomyocytes, vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. Moreover, vitamin D has been shown to affect inflammation, cell proliferation and differentiation.
While observational studies support an association between low plasma vitamin D levels and increased risk of CVD, Mendelian randomization studies do not support a causal association between the two. At present, high quality randomized trials do not find evidence of significant effects on CVD endpoints and do not support supplementation of vitamin D to decrease CVD events.