Dr Leen Antonio from University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium and a team of colleagues investigated whether the free metabolites of Vitamin D were better health predictors, using data from the European Male Ageing Study, which was collected from 1,970 community-dwelling men, aged 40-79, between 2003 and 2005. The levels of total and free metabolites of vitamin D were compared with their current health status, adjusting for potentially confounding factors, including age, body mass index, smoking and self-reported health. The total levels of both free and bound Vitamin D metabolites were associated with a higher risk of death. However, only free 25-hydroxyvitamin D was predictive of future health problems and not free 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Dr Antonio explains, “These data further confirm that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a negative impact on general health and can be predictive of a higher risk of death.”
As this is an observational study, the causal relationships and underlying mechanisms remain undetermined. It was also not possible to obtain specific information about the causes of death of the men in the study, which may be a confounding factor.
“Most studies focus on the association between total 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and age-related disease and mortality. As 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is the active form of Vitamin D in our body, it was possible it could have been a stronger predictor for disease and mortality. It has also been debated if the total or free Vitamin D levels should be measured. Our data now suggest that both total and free 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are the better measure of future health risk in men,” says Dr Antonio,