25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Young Adults: Findings From the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb 1;183(3):191-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv203. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


Higher vitamin D status, lower adiposity, and longer telomere length are each reportedly associated with lower risk of several chronic diseases and all-cause mortality. However, direct relationships between vitamin D status (measured by circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration), adiposity, and telomere length are not well established. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of associations of 25(OH)D and body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)(2)) with mean relative leukocyte telomere length (LTL) using data gathered on 5,096 participants from Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 at age 31 years (1997). 25(OH)D was not associated with LTL in either basic or confounder/mediator-adjusted models. BMI was inversely associated with LTL after adjustment for potential confounding by age, sex, socioeconomic position, physical activity, diet, smoking, alcohol intake, and use of oral contraceptives (per 1-unit increase in BMI, mean difference in LTL = -0.4%, 95% confidence interval: -0.6, -0.2). The BMI-LTL association was also independent of 25(OH)D and was attenuated slightly, but remained, after adjustment for C-reactive protein, a marker of low-grade inflammation (mean difference in LTL = -0.3%, 95% confidence interval -0.6, -0.1). These findings suggest that vitamin D status is unlikely to be an important determinant of LTL, at least by young adulthood. Inflammation may partly mediate associations of adiposity with LTL.

Keywords: Northern Finland Birth Cohorts; biological aging; telomere length; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Vitamin D
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D