OBJECTIVE: Evidence on the association of vitamin D with cardiovascular risk factors in youth is very limited. We examined whether low serum vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]) are associated with cardiovascular risk factors in US adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 3577 fasting, nonpregnant adolescents without diagnosed diabetes who participated in the 2001–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Cardiovascular risk factors were measured using standard methods and defined according to age-modified Adult Treatment Panel III definitions.
RESULTS: Mean 25(OH)D was 24.8 ng/mL; it was lowest in black (15.5 ng/mL), intermediate in Mexican American (21.5 ng/mL), and highest in white (28.0 ng/mL) adolescents (P < .001 for each pairwise comparison). Low 25(OH)D levels were strongly associated with overweight status and abdominal obesity (P for trend < .001 for both). After adjustment for age, gender, race/ethnicity, BMI, socioeconomic status, and physical activity, 25(OH)D levels were inversely associated with systolic blood pressure (P = .02) and plasma glucose concentrations (P = .01). The adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for those in the lowest (<15 ng/mL) compared with the highest quartile (>26 ng/mL) of 25(OH)D for hypertension was 2.36 (1.33–4.19); for fasting hyperglycemia it was 2.54 (1.01–6.40); for low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol it was 1.54 (0.99–2.39); for hypertriglyceridemia it was 1.00 (0.49–2.04); and for metabolic syndrome it was 3.88 (1.57–9.58).
CONCLUSIONS: Low serum vitamin D in US adolescents is strongly associated with hypertension, hyperglycemia, and metabolic syndrome, independent of adiposity.