People with vitamin D deficiency from birth to early childhood are at an increased risk of elevated systolic blood pressure during adolescence, a study has found. Systolic refers to the first or top number in a blood pressure reading. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats.
High systolic blood pressure readings increase the risk of cardiovascular disease even when diastolic blood pressure, the second number in a blood pressure reading, is controlled.
For the study, published in the journal Hypertension, researchers followed 775 children from birth to age 18. Low vitamin D levels were defined as less than 11 ng/ml (nanograms per millimeter) in cord blood at birth and less than 25 ng/ml in a child's blood during early childhood.
"Our findings raise the possibility that screening and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood might be an effective approach to reduce high blood pressure later in life," said Guoying Wang at Johns Hopkins University in the US.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium for strong bones. It is made by our bodies when we are exposed to sunlight and found in a few foods, such as eggs, salmon and fortified milk products. It is also available as a vitamin supplement.
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