Children as young as 12 years are at great risk of developing high blood pressure - because their vitamin D levels are dangerously low.
A lack of vitamin D is a marker of a poor lifestyle, and is often seen in people who are overweight and obese. Levels can be improved by eating plenty of oily fish, getting lots of sunshine or taking supplements.
This new research, which analysed the health of 3,577 adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years, is the latest to discover the vital importance that vitamin D plays in sustaining good health.
With low levels, you are at far greater risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood sugar or metabolic syndrome, a general term for a cluster of cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors.
Researchers discovered that the adolescents with the lowest levels of vitamin D had up to a four times greater risk of developing a serious health problem than those with the highest vitamin D levels.
(Source: American Heart Association 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease, Epidemiology and Prevention, March 18, 2009).