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New studies point to low vitamin D levels as an indicator of premature death.

Scientists and nutritionists alike have frequently talked about the health benefits of vitamin D, the so-called "sunshine nutrient," and the role it can play it in a healthy lifestyle. But new research points to even more startling findings: Vitamin D may actually help you live longer!

According to HealthDay News, the new study found that people boasting higher levels of vitamin D also exhibit reduced risks of heart disease and cancer — and consequently, a reduced likelihood for an early death. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to premature death risks. 

Despite these associations, researchers are hesitant to establish a definitive connection between vitamin D levels and mortality, though did they say these results were "compellingly consistent."

"People with low vitamin D die more frequently from heart disease and cancer, but it is not known if the low vitamin D is a cause of these diseases or just a byproduct of generally poor health," Ben Schoettker, a scientist with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and the study's lead author, said in an official statement, adding, "Very low vitamin D levels are mainly associated with higher age and lower physical activity [which could result in reduced sunlight exposure]."

The findings were extrapolated from eight separate studies conducted across the United States and Europe, in which 26,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 79 were examined for vitamin D intake. Of this group, approximately 6,700 passed away, most of which were attributed to cancer or heart disease. Subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 1.5 times more likely to die from heart disease during the study period than those on the higher end of the spectrum. Similarly, those with both vitamin D deficiencies and a history of cancer were 1.7 times more likely to die from cancer than those with higher vitamin D levels.

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