Vitamin D supplements may reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks among people aged 60-plus, suggests a large study.
While the researchers emphasise that the absolute risk difference was small, they also highlight that it is the largest trial of its kind to date and with extremely high retention and adherence.
The trial, carried out from 2014 to 2020, involved 21,315 Australians aged 60 to 84 who randomly received one capsule of either 60,000 IU vitamin D or placebo taken at the start of each month.
The average treatment duration was five years and more than 80% of participants reported taking at least 80% of the study tablets.
The rate of major cardiovascular events was 9% lower in the vitamin D compared with the placebo group (equivalent to 5.8 fewer events per 1000 participants).
The rate of heart attack was 19% lower in the vitamin D group, but there was no difference in the rate of stroke.
There was some indication of a stronger effect in those who were using statins or other cardiovascular drugs at the start of the trial, but it was not statistically significant.
Overall, the researchers calculate that 172 people would need to take monthly vitamin D supplements to prevent one major cardiovascular event.
The researchers acknowledge the findings may not apply to other populations, but say further evaluation is warranted, particularly in people taking statins or other cardiovascular disease drugs.
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