Vitamin D is necessary for bone health but may also have many extra-skeletal effects. The vitamin D endocrine system has major effects on gene and protein expression in many cells and tissues related to the cardiovascular system. In addition, many preclinical studies in animals with vitamin D deficiency or genetically silenced expression of the vitamin D receptor or vitamin D metabolizing enzymes suggest that the absence of vitamin D action may result in cardiovascular events. This includes dysfunctions of endothelial cells, thereby accelerating the process of atherosclerosis, hypertension or abnormal coagulation, ultimately resulting in higher risks for all major cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events. A wealth of observational studies in different parts of the world have fairly consistently found a strong association between a poor vitamin D status and surrogate markers or hard cardiovascular events. A few Mendelian randomization studies did, however, not find a link between genetically lower serum 25OHD concentrations and cardiovascular events. Finally, many RCTs could not demonstrate a consistent effect on surrogate markers, and a limited number of RCTs did so far not find whatever effect on hard cardiovascular endpoints such as myocardial ischemia or infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death. In conclusion, preclinical data generated a plausible hypothesis of a link between vitamin D status and extra-skeletal events, including cardiovascular endpoints. Whether the vitamin D endocrine system is redundant for the human vascular system or whether the RCTs have not been optimally designed to answer the research question is thus not yet settled.
Keywords: 25-Hydroxyvitamin D; Cardiovascular health; Mendelian randomization studies; Myocardial infarction; Stroke; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor.