The largest study to date to examine the link between vitamin D levels and hypertension indicates that persons with higher levels of the nutrient have lower blood pressure and lower risk for hypertension.

Published online ahead of print in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology by Elina Hyppönen, PhD, and colleagues, the study involved the use of Mendelian randomization to measure vitamin D status and test for an association with blood pressure in more than 150,000 people across Europe and North America. In this approach, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—genetic variants that affect vitamin D synthesis—were used as proxy markers for vitamin D. 

Hyppönen’s group learned that every 10% increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration was associated with a 0.24-mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure and an 8.1% decrease in the risk for developing hypertension.

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The genetic study also included a review of 35 earlier studies that had indicated a similar association. Although previous data had suggested that low levels of vitamin D are linked with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality, a causal association between vitamin D levels and hypertension had not been demonstrated until now.

“In view of the costs and the side effects associated with antihypertensive drugs, the possibility of preventing or reducing hypertension with vitamin D supplementation is very attractive,” the authors wrote.