Vitamin D Levels, Body Composition, and Metabolic Factors in Asian Indians: Results from the Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America Pilot Study

Ann Nutr Metab. 2018;72(3):223-230. doi: 10.1159/000487272. Epub 2018 Mar 8.


Background/aims: Asian Indians have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and metabolic syndrome. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of 150 Asian Indians (50% male) from the San Francisco Bay Area. We assessed the association between 25-OH vitamin D (25-OHD) levels and vitamin D deficiency with body composition (anthropometric and radiographic measures) and metabolic outcomes.

Results: In both men and women, the presence of vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher systolic (p = 0.004) and diastolic (p = 0.01) blood pressure, and fasting glucose (p = 0.01). Only in women, vitamin D deficiency status was associated with higher body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, visceral fat area, and hepatic fat content after adjusting for age, income, and physical activity level. In women, 25-OHD was also associated with fasting glucose after adjusting for age, income, and physical activity and further adjusting for BMI and waist circumference (β -2.1, 95% CI -0.86 to -0.01, p = 0.04). This association between vitamin D deficiency and metabolic parameters was not significant in men.

Conclusions: A lower level of 25-OHD and vitamin D deficiency were associated with higher levels of metabolic factors among Asian Indians. Our findings suggest that 25-OHD metabolism may differ by the distribution of adipose tissue and involve previously unexplored pathways accounting for the variability in the role of vitamin D in cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: 25-OH Vitamin D; Asian Indians; Body composition; Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / blood*
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / ethnology
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • San Francisco
  • Sex Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio


  • Blood Glucose
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D