Low Vitamin D Levels May Signal CVD Risk in Young Adults


Circulating levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) may be a marker of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in healthy young adults, small study finds.


  • A secondary analysis of the Activating Brown Adipose Tissue Through Exercise (ACTIBATE) trial assessed the association between serum 25(OH)D levels and CVD risk factors.
  • The cross-sectional study used baseline data of in 177 healthy sedentary adults ages 18-25 years (65% women; all White individuals), who were recruited between October 2015 and December 2016 from Granada, a region in the south of Spain.
  • Study participants were nonsmokers, led a sedentary lifestyle, and did not have a prior history of CVD or chronic illnesses.
  • The CVD risk factors included anthropometrical and body composition profiles, glucose and lipid metabolism, liver, and pro- and anti-inflammatory biomarkers.
  • 25(OH)D serum concentrations were measured with a competitive chemiluminescence immunoassay and defined as deficient (< 20 ng/mL), insufficient (21-29 ng/mL), or normal (> 30 ng/mL).


  • The vitamin D levels correlated inversely with body mass index (BMI; standardized regression coefficient [β], −0.177; P = .018), fat mass index (β, −0.195; P = .011), and systolic blood pressure (β, −0.137; P = .038), after adjusting for sex.
  • Glucose metabolism markers (serum glucose and insulin concentrations, insulin/glucose ratio, and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance index) also correlated inversely with vitamin D levels.
  • The trend was similar for liver markers serum γ-glutamyl transferase and alkaline phosphatase) and the anti-inflammatory marker interleukin-4.
  • BMI, waist/hip ratio, fat mass index, blood pressure, and levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and liver markers were higher in the 44 participants with vitamin D deficiency vs 41 participants with normal vitamin D levels.


"Collectively, these findings support the idea that 25(OH)D concentrations may be used as a useful marker of CVD status, which can be easily monitored in young individuals," the authors wrote.


This study was led by first author Francisco J. Amaro‑Gahete, MD, PhD, from the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Granada, Spain, who also holds positions in other institutions. It was published online on January 4, 2024, in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.


This study could not establish causal relationships due to its cross-sectional design. The results might not apply to younger or older people from different locations and ethnic backgrounds. The gold standard method for analyzing vitamin D levels, liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, was not used in this study.


This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Spanish Ministry of Education, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, and other sources. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.