Vitamin D3 supplementation has no effect on conventional cardiovascular risk factors: a parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled RCT

Adrian D. Wood, Karen R. Secombes, Frank Thies, Lorna Aucott, Alison J. Black, Alexandra Mavroeidi, William G. Simpson, William D. Fraser, David M. Reid, Helen M. Macdonald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Observational studies show an association between low vitamin D status assessed by circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and cardiovascular events and mortality. Data from randomized controlled trials are limited. Objective: The aim of this study was to test whether daily doses of vitamin D 3 at 400 or 1000 IU/d for 1 yr affected conventional markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Design: We conducted a parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized controlled trial. Randomization was computer generated. Participants and study investigators were blinded to intervention groupings throughout the trial. Setting: The study was conducted at the Clinical Research Facility, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. Participants: Atotal of 305 healthy postmenopausal women aged 60-70 yr were recruited for the study. Intervention: Each woman received a daily capsule of 400 or 1000 IU vitamin D3 or placebo randomly allocated. Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcomes were serum lipid profile [total, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; triglycerides; and apolipoproteins A-1 and B 100], insulin resistance (homeostatic model assessment), inflammatory biomarkers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6, soluble intracellular adhesion molecule-1), and blood pressure. Results: Atotal of 265 (87%) participants completed all study visits. Small differences between groups for serum apolipoprotein B 100 change [repeated measures ANOVA, P = 0.04; mean (SD), -1.0 (10.0) mg/dl (400 IU); -1.0 (10.0) mg/dl (1000 IU); and +0.02 (10.0) mg/dl (placebo)] were not considered clinically significant. Other systemic markers for CVD risk remained unchanged. There was significant seasonal variation in systolic and diastolic blood pressure independent of vitamin D dose (P <0.001, linear mixed model). Mean (SD) reduction in systolic blood pressure from winter to summer was -6.6 (10.8) mm Hg. Conclusions: Improving vitamin D status through dietary supplementation is unlikely to reduce CVD risk factors. Confounding of seasonality should be recognized and addressed in future studies of vitamin D.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3557-3567
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • vitamin D3
  • cardiovascular risk factors
  • randomised controlled trial (RCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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