Effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum lipid profiles: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nutr Rev. 2019 Dec 1;77(12):890-902. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz037.


Context: Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent across the world. The existing evidence suggests vitamin D may have beneficial effects on serum lipid profiles and thus cardiovascular health.

Objective: The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum lipid profiles.

Data source: Original randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum lipid profiles and published before July 2018 were identified by searching online databases, including PubMed, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect, using a combination of relevant keywords.

Data extraction: Data on study characteristics, effect size, measure of variation, type of vitamin D supplementation, and duration of follow-up were extracted by the author.

Data analysis: PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed. Random effects (DerSimonian and Laird [D-V)] models were used to pool standardized mean differences in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides between the active and the placebo arms of RCT studies. Between-study heterogeneities were assessed using Cochrane Q and I2, and publication bias was assessed using Begg's test, Egger's test, and funnel plot.

Results: A total of 41 RCTs comprising 3434 participants (n = 1699 in the vitamin D supplementation arm and n = 1735 in the placebo arm) were identified and included in the meta-analysis. Approximately 63.4% of study participants were women, with 14 studies conducted entirely among women. Approximately 24% of the trials had follow-up duration >6 months, whereas the remaining 76% had follow-up duration of <6 months. The standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for comparing the change from baseline to follow-up between the vitamin D supplementation arm and the placebo (control) arm were as follows: total cholesterol = -0.17 (-0.28 to -0.06); LDL cholesterol = -0.12 (-0.23 to -0.01); triglycerides = -0.12 (-0.25 to 0.01); and HDL cholesterol = -0.19 (-0.44 to 0.06). After removing a trial that was an outlier based on the magnitude of the effect size, the SMD for triglycerides was -0.15 (-0.24 to -0.06) and that for HDL cholesterol was -0.10 (-0.28 to 0.09). The improvements in total cholesterol and triglycerides were more pronounced in participants with baseline vitamin D deficiency.

Conclusions: Vitamin D supplementation appeared to have a beneficial effect on reducing serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels but not HDL cholesterol levels. Vitamin D supplementation may be useful in hypercholesterolemia patients with vitamin D insufficiency who are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: high-density lipoprotein (HDL); low-density lipoprotein (LDL); meta-analysis; randomized controlled trial (RCT); serum cholesterol; triglyceride; vitamin D supplementation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Lipids
  • Vitamin D