A study of elderly men found no evidence that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increased in severity or prevalence as a result of vitamin D deficiency.

“The link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency can be explained a number ways, one of which is that obese individuals are less likely to be physically active, thereby limiting their sun exposure,” says senior investigator Ken Kunisaki, MD, MS, medical director of the Sleep Apnea Program at the Minneapolis VA and associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, in a release.

“Although our study was not designed to figure out why obese people have lower vitamin D levels, our results ultimately suggest that low vitamin D levels do not cause or worsen OSA,” says Kunisaki. “Therefore, taking additional vitamin D supplements is not likely to prevent or improve OSA.”

The researchers also found no evidence to support a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of OSA in non-obese study participants.

The researchers noted that the cohort of 2,827 participants whose data were analyzed in this study were generally healthy, mostly Caucasian (92.2%), elderly males (average age 76.4 years), therefore limiting the generalizability of the study results to other populations.

The article was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.