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Cardiology News: Vitamin D Linked to Heart Health

Posted by admin in Cardiology

You may have heard a great deal lately about the importance of vitamin D and cardiovascular health.  Numerous articles have talked about how the majority of people have dangerously low levels of vitamin D because they spend too much time indoors.  Sunshine helps the body produce the vitamin, so the recommendation has been to spend a short period of time outdoors each day without sunscreen in order to obtain sufficient sun exposure.

Why are vitamin D levels so important?

One of the reasons is that the vitamin has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  A review of 75 studies that were conducted by various researchers has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The review of the studies indicates that people who have suffered heart attacks are usually low on vitamin D. The evidence suggests that vitamin D levels have an impact on blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and even insulin resistance (a condition in which the body’s cells become resistant to the hormone insulin, increasing diabetes risk.)

While the review of previous studies is compelling, no one knows as yet whether boosting vitamin D levels through sun exposure, supplements, or foods would actually lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. New studies must be conducted to determine if vitamin D supplementation or foods rich in the vitamin have the capacity to actually prevent cardiovascular disease and perhaps even reverse it in those who already have cardiovascular issues.

Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital has begun a study called VITAL which will observe 20,000 men and women to see if vitamin D supplements reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer. The research participants are also taking omega-3 fatty acids. A control group is being given a placebo, and the results will not be complete for another five years.

As a result of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology article, many cardiology specialists are recommending that patients take vitamin D supplements, but no guarantees can be made as to whether these supplements will actually prevent cardiovascular disease.

Other Benefits From Vitamin D

Whether or not vitamin D can actually prevent heart attacks and strokes, deficiencies have also been associated with breast cancer and prostate cancer. We know that sufficient levels of the vitamin may protect bone health and prevent diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), as well as multiple sclerosis.

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that is a result of lack of sunlight in winter, have also been shown to experience benefits from vitamin D supplements.

 

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