Vitamin D protects against death from heart disease and stroke

The evidence connecting Vitamin D deficiency with chronic disease continues to mount. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, multiple cancers, musculoskeletal diseases, thyroid disease, depression, and Type II diabetes. This is especially troublesome since several studies have found that most Americans are Vitamin D deficient.

Now, a long-term study has examined the connection between blood Vitamin D levels and death from cardiovascular disease – and the results were dramatic:

Serum Vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning of the study, and subjects were followed for 26 years. The researches found that those individuals with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D were 24% less likely to die from any cardiovascular disease, and 52% less likely to die from stroke.1

This new data supports results from the Framingham Heart Study, in which subjects were followed for 5 years – even after 5 years, those with low blood levels of vitamin D had a 60% greater risk of heart disease.2

How might Vitamin D affect cardiovascular health? Vitamin D localizes to most tissues and cells in the human body and is involved in several vital processes – to name a few - insulin production, immune cell function, inflammation, and heart contractility. Vitamin D deficiency could possibly lead to a pro-inflammatory environment, which would promote cardiovascular disease.3

How can you get adequate Vitamin D? Food sources of Vitamin D are scarce, and it is almost impossible for your body to produce sufficient Vitamin D from a safe amount of sun exposure, especially if you work indoors and don’t live in the tropics. So a Vitamin D supplement is your best bet. Remember – the standard dose of Vitamin D found in most multivitamins is not enough to assure adequate blood Vitamin D levels. In order to support all of Vitamin D’s important actions in the body, additional supplementation is necessary. Be cautious of Vitamin D supplements geared toward bone health – they may also contain excessive amounts of calcium, which can result in poor absorption of other minerals. Read more about calcium, vitamin D and bone health.

 

References:

1. Kilkkinen A et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Oct 15;170(8):1032-9. Epub 2009 Sep 17. Vitamin D status and the risk of cardiovascular disease death.

2. Wang TJ. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29;117(4):503-11. Epub 2008 Jan 7. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Holick MF. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S-88S. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.