Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" as it is produced in the body after exposure to sunlight. Picture: Health.mil

London - Not getting enough vitamin D significantly increases the danger of an earlier death, researchers have warned.

Scientists discovered that low levels led to a nearly three-fold rise in risk of death from any cause in adults aged 45-60.

They were surprised to find the biggest danger for diabetics. People with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 4.4 times higher chance of dying from diabetes. But a high level of vitamin D greatly cut chances of dying from any cause 30 to 40 percent.

Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" as it is produced in the body after exposure to sunlight.

The risk of death from infectious diseases was also doubled in those with low levels. Data on 78 581 patients with an average age of 51, spanning up to 20 years from 1991 to 2011 was studied.

The effects did not work after the age of 75, where on average there was no longer any association between vitamin D level and mortality. The research was presented at this week’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Barcelona.

Dr Rodrig Marculescu at the Medical University of Vienna said: "Our survival data from a large cohort, covering all age groups, from a population with minimal vitamin D supplementation at old age, confirm a strong association of vitamin D deficiency with increased mortality.

"This association is most pronounced in the younger and middle-aged groups and for causes of deaths other than cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially diabetes."

He recommended "widespread" use of vitamin D supplements even early in life and was not concerned about a possible negative effect of high levels.

Daily Mail