WEDNESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Nutrition and sun exposure
are both prime influences on an individual's vitamin D level, but a
new study suggests that genetics could help determine a person's
risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Fresh indications of a genetic component to vitamin D levels
stem from a genome analysis conducted by an international team of
researchers who focused on a pool of patients composed exclusively
of white men and women of European descent.
The team's findings were released online June 9 in advance of
publication in an upcoming print issue of
Having a sufficient amount of vitamin D in the body is critical
to maintaining good musculoskeletal health, and could possibly have
an impact on tissue health as well, the authors noted in a news
release about the study.
To explore the notion that people might be genetically
predisposed to have vitamin D deficiency, the team first determined
blood levels of vitamin D in about 34,000 study participants. They
then conducted a high-tech genetic analysis of the same
participants to locate specific common points on their genomes that
appeared to be linked to vitamin D concentration levels.
The researchers were able to pinpoint three such "sites," which
were located near genes the authors said were involved with the
synthesis of cholesterol, vitamin D metabolism and vitamin D
Patients whose particular genotype -- as mapped out along these
sites -- was most predisposed to promote vitamin D deficiency were
2.5 times more likely to have that deficiency, as compared with
those whose genetic background was least disposed to the problem,
according to the research team led by Timothy Spector of King's
Spector and his colleagues from the United States, the United
Kingdom and Belgium, concluded that their findings "establish a
role for common genetic variants in regulation of circulating
vitamin D concentrations."
The authors added that the genetic observations "improve our
understanding of vitamin D regulation and could assist
identification of a subgroup of the white population who are most
at risk of vitamin D insufficiency and who may need extra levels of
They cautioned, however, that it remains as yet unclear whether
or not the particular genetic sites they identified as linked to
vitamin D would similarly have an impact on other racial and ethnic
groups besides white Europeans.
For more on vitamin D, visit the
U.S. National Institutes of Health.