Background: Recent research suggests that body vitamin D levels are decreased in coronary heart disease and diabetes, but it is unclear which cardiovascular risk factors are related to vitamin D status.
Aims: To examine the relation between vitamin D status and major cardiovascular risk factors.
Methods: Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, a marker of recent sun exposure and vitamin D status, was measured in 390 New Zealand residents (95 Pacific Islanders, 74 Maori and 221 others mostly of European descent), who were part of a larger cross-sectional survey of a workforce (n = 5677) aged 40-64 years.
Results: Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels were significantly lower in Pacific Islanders (mean (SE) = 56 (3) nmol/L; p = 0.0001) and Maoris (68 (3) nmol/L; p = 0.036) compared with Europeans (75 (2) nmol/L) after adjusting for age, sex and time of year. Also adjusting for ethnic group, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 was higher in people doing vigorous (aerobic) leisure physical activities (71 (2) nmol/L; p = 0.0066) and moderate (non-aerobic) activities (68 (3) nmol/L; p = 0.12) compared with those who were inactive (63 (2) nmol/L). However, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 was unrelated to body mass index, serum lipids, blood pressure or cigarette smoking.
Conclusions: People with increased skin pigmentation, such as Polynesians, and people who are inactive, have decreased body levels of vitamin D; this might partly explain their increased risk of cardiovascular disease.