Low levels of vitamin D in childhood increases the risk of heart disease later, a study has suggested.
Low levels of vitamin D in childhood were associated with subclinical atherosclerosis over 25 years later in adulthood, the findings showed.
Atherosclerosis correlates with cardiovascular risk factors, and predicts cardiovascular events.
"Our results showed an association between low vitamin D levels in childhood and increased occurrence of subclinical atherosclerosis in adulthood," said one of the authors Markus Juonala from University of Turku Finland.
"The association was independent of conventional cardiovascular risk factors including serum lipids, blood pressure, smoking, diet, physical activity, obesity indices and socioeconomic status," Juonala added.
The study examined the relationship between low childhood vitamin D levels and adult increased carotid intima-thickness (IMT), a marker of structural atherosclerosis.
The researchers analysed 2,148 participants aged three-18 years at baseline.
They were re-examined at age 30-45 years.
Participants with low levels of vitamin D in childhood had a significantly higher prevalence of high-risk IMT as adults, the findings showed.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.