Vitamin D deficiency is a global health challenge and has been linked to type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. However, the relationship between vitamin D status, body composition, and cardiovascular risks has not been well characterized in Asian populations. The objectives of this study were to examine the factors associated with the low vitamin D levels in a sunny tropical region and to assess the role of vitamin D status in cardiovascular risk factors.
Design and Methods:
This was a cross-sectional study. One hundred and fourteen healthy participants (59 males and 55 females) residing in Singapore took part in this study. Plasma 25OH-D3 concentration was measured by using LC-MS/MS. Body fat (%) was measured by using three different techniques including bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), BOD POD, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Basic anthropometric measurements, fasting blood glucose (FBG), fasting serum insulin (FSI), and lipid profiles were obtained using standard protocols.
Approximately 42% of the participants were vitamin D deficient (< 20 ng/mL). Vitamin D status was inversely associated with body fat (%), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and total cholesterol/high density lipoprotein (TC/HDL) ratio, while positively associated with lean body mass (LBM) and hand grip strength (HGS).
The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in a sunny tropical region reinforces the need to recognize that sunlight alone is not the precursor for optimal vitamin D status. This raises the need to investigate public health measures that will encourage exposure to sunlight without overexposure that is harmful to skin. More importantly, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased cardiovascular risks, i.e. HOMA-IR, TC/HDL, and LDL/HDL. Future studies should attempt to elucidate the potential mechanisms.