Plasma vitamin D levels and risk of metabolic syndrome in Canadians

Darren R Brenner, Paul Arora, Bibiana Garcia-Bailo, Thomas MS Wolever, Howard Morrison, Ahmed El-Sohemy, Mohamed Karmali, Alaa Badawi


Purpose: Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in susceptibility to the development of metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The present study aimed to quantify the association between vitamin D plasma level, the number of metabolic syndrome components and insulin resistance in Canadians.

Methods: Vitamin D plasma level and clinical data were determined from 1,818 subjects from the Canadian Health Measures Survey; a representative health survey of the general population of Canada conducted from 2007 to 2009. The definition of metabolic syndrome was based on the National Cholesterol Education Program, Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. Adjusted general linear models were used to estimate the association between vitamin D level and probability of having metabolic syndrome, as well as the association between plasma vitamin D and insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance, or HOMA-IR).

Results: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the study population was 8.9%. The number of metabolic syndrome components was inversely correlated with plasma vitamin D level (ρ= -0.1, p < 0.0001). Subjects in the highest vitamin D quartile had lower odds ratio of metabolic syndrome compared with their counterparts in the lowest vitamin D quartile (0.50, 95% CI= 0.24-1.06). Increasing plasma vitamin D level (by 10 nmol/L) was inversely associated with HOMA-IR score (β= -0.08, p=0.006) in a model adjusted for physical activity, smoking status, month of interview, age, sex and ethnicity.

Conclusion: Vitamin D plasma levels are associated with the occurrence of metabolic syndrome components and insulin resistance among Canadians and are linked to increased level of insulin resistance.

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