Vitamin D and Genes Play Nice Together

Genes influence the way vitamin D is used by the body and how vitamin D affects health

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Vitamin D has been linked to many aspects of health, like bone health, heart health and memory.  So, researchers looked to see which genes affect the link between vitamin D and health.

They looked at genes that are part of how vitamin D is used by the body.  Certain versions of these genes predicted who had low vitamin D levels.

Those gene versions also predicted who had health problems like heart attack and hip fracture.

"Talk to your doctor about ways to boost vitamin D."

Researchers, led by Gregory P. Levin, PhD, of the University of Washington, looked at genetic differences in the way vitamin D is used by the body.

First, they looked at 1514 people from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). The CHS is a long-term study of people over age 65.

They did a blood test at the start of the study. They measured vitamin D and used the blood sample to look at each person’s genes.

Then, the people were tracked for up to 11 years.

The researchers looked at how long it took people to have a hip fracture, heart attack, cancer or die. And, they compared this information to the vitamin D levels and genes.

They found that having certain gene versions for vitamin D receptors put people at more risk of health problems. And, those people also had lower vitamin D levels in their blood. 

Having one or two risky gene versions raised risk of these health problems compared to having none of the risky gene versions.

The authors concluded that certain genes versions for the vitamin D receptor influence which people have poor health outcomes because of low vitamin D levels.

This study was published November 14 in JAMA. The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Swedish Research Council.

Some of the authors reported acting as consultants or receiving grant money from Abbott, Genzyme, Amgen, Shire and others.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 20, 2012
Last Updated:
November 20, 2012