University of Kansas researchers, analyzing data on more than 10,000 patients, found that 70 percent were deficient in vitamin D and were at significantly higher risk for a variety of heart diseases.

D-deficiency also nearly doubled a person's likelihood of dying, conversely using Vitamin D supplements lowered their risk of death by 60 percent.

A recent large study took into account a patients' medical history, medications and other factors, and cardiologists found that people with low levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from a diseased heart muscle as people without D deficiency.

Overall, those who were deficient in D had a three-fold higher likelihood of dying from any cause than those who weren't deficient, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Cardiology. Moreover, when the team looked at people who took vitamin D supplements, their risk of death from any cause was about 60 percent lower than the rest of the patients, although the effect was strongest among those who were vitamin D deficient at the time they were tested.

In the northern United States and Canada, experts say the sun isn't strong enough during the winter months to make sufficient vitamin D.

Adults should consider getting their Vitamin D levels checked through a simple blood test, that can be prescribed by their physician. Generally, the study recommended that adults take between 1,000 to 2,000 international units (IU) of Vitamin D each day.

(From Businessweek)