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NEW YORK, June 27 - (Reuters Life!) - Men who consume the recommended amount of vitamin D are somewhat less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those with low vitamin D, according to a U.S. study.
The study, which followed nearly 119,000 adults for two decades and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that men who got at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day, the current recommended amount, were 16 percent less likely to develop heart problems or stroke than men who got less than 100 IUD per day.
But there was no such pattern among women, wrote lead research Qi Sun at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"These observations suggest that a higher intake of vitamin D is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in men but not in women," Sun wrote.
But Sun and the other authors said the findings don't yet prove that vitamin D, which is found in fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil, deserves the credit for the lower risk found in men.
"The evidence is not strong enough yet to make solid recommendations," Sun added.
The current study was observational, based on data from two long-term projects that have followed two large groups of U.S. health professionals since the 1980s: the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
Out of 45,000 men, there were about 5,000 new cases of cardiovascular disease over the study period, marked by a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death.
It's not clear why the finding in men wasn't matched by a similar pattern in women, but Sun said one possibility is that women may have less active vitamin D circulating in the blood.
Vitamin D is also stored in fat, and women typically have a higher percentage of body fat than men do.
But more research is needed, Sun said, adding that more answers are expected from an ongoing randomized trial evaluating whether a high dose of vitamin D (2,000 IU per day) can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. SOURCE: bit.ly/irO9Xe
Reporting by Amy Norton at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies