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What Are the Effects of Low Vitamin D in Men?

By William Gamonski

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, helps the body absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorus. It is also involved in neuromuscular function. Sunlight synthesizes vitamin D in the skin and is obtained through diet. Evidence indicates that a low vitamin D level in men poses adverse effects on overall health.

Increases Cancer Risk

Low vitamin D might increase cancer incidence in men, according to lead author Dr. Edward Giovannucci and colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health. They examined the relationship between vitamin D status and cancer incidence for men in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study cohort. The report, published in the April 2006 issue of the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute,” revealed that men with insufficient vitamin D had an increased risk of developing cancer, especially digestive system cancers, compared to those with sufficient vitamin D.

Increases Heart Attack Risk

Inadequate vitamin D increases the risk for a heart attack in men. Giovannucci and researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found that men deficient in vitamin D presented a higher risk of myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, compared to those with sufficient vitamin D levels, the June 2008 issue of the journal “Archives of Internal Medicine."

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Lowers Testosterone Levels

Lead author Elisabeth Wehr and fellow researchers from Medical University Graz in Austria studied the relationship between vitamin D status and testosterone levels in men referred for coronary angiography. The study, reported in the August 2010 issue of “Clinical Endocrinology,” revealed that men with inadequate vitamin D levels had lower levels of the hormone testosterone compared to those with adequate levels. Testosterone is crucial for maintaining muscle, as well as increasing libido.

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