Printer Friendly

Boosting vitamin D may reduce your heart risk; research shows that the vitamin helps fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and may also play a role in controlling cholesterol.

If you want to help your heart, make sure you're getting enough vitamin D.

Research shows that this particular vitamin has substantial benefits, ranging from cancer prevention to improved heart health. A study published in the June 11 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine found a "significantly higher" prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and high triglyceride levels in individuals with lower levels of vitamin D.

"Over the past five years, vitamin D has emerged as one of the key nutrient deficiencies contributing to the risk of many chronic diseases, including colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Heart disease can now be added to this impressive list," says Carolyn Snyder, MPH, RD, LD, with Cleveland Clinic's Department of Nutrition Therapy.


What it is

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin with two main forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The latter is the naturally occurring form and the form used for low-dose supplementation, Snyder explains. Vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin after exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and obtained in the diet chiefly from fish liver oils and saltwater fish. In the United States, people also get vitamin D3 from fortified milk and cereals.

According to the National Institutes of Health, your liver and kidneys convert vitamin D to form 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, the vitamin's physiologically active form. This active form of vitamin D functions as a hormone, sending messages to the intestines to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. In fact, one of the major functions of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

Why you need it

Doctors have long known that deficient levels of vitamin D can lead to rickets in children--something that was much more common prior to the 1930s, at which time the government promoted fortifying food with vitamin D--and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adults. And now research shows that low levels of vitamin D can affect your cardiovascular system as well.

"Researchers have yet to determine the exact mechanisms connecting vitamin D with reduced risk of heart disease," Snyder explains. "But studies have already shown that vitamin D can lower inflammation by increasing levels of anti-inflammatory messengers like the cytokine named IL-10 (interleukin-10).

"Research has also shown that vitamin D can lower blood pressure, probably by inhibiting a regulatory system called the renin-angiotensin system," she adds. "An analysis of vitamin D metabolism in 2006 has further suggested that vitamin D may be directly involved in cholesterol reduction."


* Get five to 10 minutes of sun exposure on your arms and legs, or hands, arms and face, two to three times per week without using sunblock.

* Include vitamin D-fortified foods (milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice and some breads) in your diet.

* Take multivitamins, which generally contain 400 international units of vitamin D.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of
the National academy of sciences
established the following as Adequate
Intakes (AI) for vitamin D in micrograms
(mcg) and International Units (IUs):

AGES 51-69             AGES 70+

10 mcg *               15 mcg *
or 400 IU              or 600 IU

* 1 mcg vitamin D = 40 International Units (IU)


                                                                  % OF
                                     SERVING      INTERNATIONAL   DAILY
Food                                   SIZE           UNITS       VALUE

Cod liver oil                      1 tablespoon       1,360        340

Salmon, cooked                      1/2 ounces         360          90

Mackerel, cooked                    1/2 ounces         345          90

Tuna fish, canned in oil              ounces           200          50

Sardines, canned in oil            1 3/4 ounces        250          70

Milk (all varieties)                  1 cup            98           25

Ready-to-eat cereals fortified     3/4 to 1 cup        40           10
with 10% of the DV for vitamin D     (varies)

Source: NIH's Office of Dietary Supplements
COPYRIGHT 2007 Belvoir Media Group, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:PREVENTION
Publication:Heart Advisor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Previous Article:Ask the doctor.
Next Article:A healthy heart could prevent or delay Alzheimer's; research shows that certain heart medications, as well as heart-healthy lifestyle changes, can...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters