Associations between 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, body composition and metabolic profiles in young women



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity globally. Results from previous studies are inconsistent and it remains unclear whether low-serum 25 OHD levels are associated with an increased risk of CVD. These associations have been little studied in young women. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between serum 25 OHD and obesity, body composition, metabolic profiles and blood pressure in young women.


Women aged 16–25 years living in Victoria, Australia, were recruited through Facebook advertising in this cross-sectional study. Participants completed an online survey and attended a site visit in a fasted state, where parameters, including blood pressure, anthropometry, metabolic profiles, serum 25 OHD levels and body composition (using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) were measured.


A total of 557 participants were recruited into this study. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that after adjusting for visceral fat, season, smoking, physical activity, age, alcohol intake, oral contraceptive use, country of birth, taking multivitamins and taking vitamin D supplement, a 10 nmol/L increase in 25 OHD levels was associated with 0.65% greater HDL levels (p = 0.016) and 0.92% greater triglyceride levels (p = 0.003). It was also associated with 0.48% lower BMI (p < 0.001), 0.50% lower total fat percentage (p < 0.001), 0.09% lower visceral fat percentage (p < 0.001), 0.14% lower visceral fat to total fat ratio (p < 0.001) and 0.36% lower trunk fat to total fat ratio (p < 0.001), after adjustment for season, smoking, physical activity, age, alcohol intake, oral contraceptive use, country of birth, taking multivitamins and taking vitamin D supplements. Although these associations were statistically significant, they were very small in magnitude and of uncertain clinical significance.


These findings may help to explain an association between 25 OHD levels and CVD risk factors through associations with HDL, BMI, total body and visceral fat mass. Possible underlying mechanisms warrant further investigation.

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Authors would like to thank Dr Nicola Reavley, Assoc Prof Marie Pirotta, Prof George Varigos, Prof Kim Bennell, Prof Anthony Jorm, Dr Tharshan Vaithianathan, Assoc Prof Shanton Chang, Adele Rivers, Dr Ashwini Kale, Stefanie Hartley, Dr Yasmin Jayasinghe, Heather Robinson, Anna Scobie, Skye Maclean, Sonia Romeo, Rachel Slatyer, Jessica Cargill, Jemma Christie, Dr Catherine Segan, Dr Elisa Young, Dr Adrian Bickerstaffe, Maria Bisignano, Peter Gies, Kerryn King, Stefanie Koneski, Oktay Tacar, Dr Johannes Willnecker, Prof Steve Howard (deceased), Sin-Hyeong Choi and all other members of the Safe-D study and YFHI study groups. Authors also would like to thank all participants for their time and effort. The Safe-D study (part B) has received in-kind support from Swisse Wellness. Swisse Wellness did not play a role in study design, the implementation of these studies, nor the interpretation of the findings. This study is registered in Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) with registration number of ACTRN12617000927325.

Author contributions

The study was conceived and designed mainly by J.D.W. and A.G., with contributions by the other authors. J.D.W. supervised the study. M.T. and E.T.C. contributed to the data collection. All authors contributed to data interpretation, and drafting of the manuscript. M.T., A.G. and A.K.S. contributed to statistical analyses. All authors approved the final manuscript for submission.


This study was supported by two grants from the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council). Grant number #1049065 for the Safe-D study.

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Correspondence to John D. Wark.

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Tabesh, M., Callegari, E.T., Gorelik, A. et al. Associations between 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, body composition and metabolic profiles in young women. Eur J Clin Nutr 72, 1093–1102 (2018).

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