Low levels of vitamin D can trigger high blood pressure, a study shows.
UK scientists have demonstrated a direct genetic link between lacking the "sunshine" vitamin and hypertension. The study suggests vitamin D supplements may help at-risk patients avoid heart and artery disease.
The researchers looked for genetic markers linked to higher or lower levels of metabolised vitamin D.
They found that for every 10% increase in concentrations of the 25-hydroxyvitamin form of vitamin D, the risk of developing high blood pressure fell by 8.1%.
The findings were presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Paris, France.
Lead scientist Vimal Karani, from the Institute of Child Health at University College London, said the study strongly suggested that some cases of cardiovascular disease could be prevented through vitamin D supplements or food fortification.
"Our new data provide further support for the important non-skeletal effects of vitamin D. We now intend to continue this work by examining the causal relationship between vitamin D status and other cardiovascular disease-related outcomes," Dr Karani said.