Does Any Scientific Research Link Vitamin D to Heart Health?
Yes. A recent (03/02/2010) meta analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Dr. Anastassios Pittas and colleagues concludes that, “Lower vitamin D status seems to be associated with increased risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease….” A second, recent article (also 03/02/2010) published in the same Annals by Dr. Lu Wang et. al. examined dozens of different studies of the relationship between Vitamin D levels and heart disease, and found that the closer you live to the equator, the less cardiovascular disease is to be found in local populations. In other words, the more sunlight you get, the less cardiovascular problems you have. Vitamin D seems to be the lynchpin here.
Does Vitamin D play a crucial role in Neurodegenerative disease?
Yes, it does. Multiple Sclerosis occurs heavily in areas with reduced sunlight, and is far rarer in bright, sunny climates. The late medical geographer Dr. Harold Foster wrote a compelling analysis of this phenomenon in his book, “What Really Causes MS?” There he shows how low levels of Vitamin D due to poor solar exposure combined with inadequate pre-natal intake of iodine can program genes to express negative events, leading to MS.
If we do not have adequate levels of Vitamin D in the blood, or if our bodies cannot synthesize this vitamin properly, we may be increasing our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke or multiple sclerosis. The area in which I live, the Pacific NorthWest, is currently the American epicenter for incidence of MS. Everyone is asking why. Why is no-one studying the epidemiology? Ensuring adequate levels of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the blood is crucial for maintenance of systemic health, and avoidance of disease. This is all the more so in northern latitudes, in winter time (September to April), in the elderly (who absorb UV-B poorly through the skin), in people suffering from metabolic disorders, or from Kidney and Liver problems. It is also critical for persons with darker skins, as melanin slows down absorption of this key vitamin, D3. (This is one major reason behind elevated levels of hypertension, stroke and heart disease amongst African Americans.)
In the above mentioned study, Dr. Wang concludes,“To date, evidence from prospective observational studies and randomized controlled trials suggests that vitamin D supplementation at moderate to high doses may have beneficial effects on reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.”
Dr Brent Muhlestein, director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Heart Center Institute in Murray, Utah, presented a paper at this year’s American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session in Atlanta.
Dr. Muhlestein studied 31,000 patients over one year and found those with the lowest vitamin D levels had a 170-per-cent greater risk of heart attacks than those with the highest levels. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels also had an 80-per-cent greater risk of death, a 54-per-cent higher risk of diabetes, a 40-per-cent higher risk of coronary artery disease, a 72-per-cent higher risk of kidney failure and a 26-per-cent higher risk of depression.
Please refer to our page on Vitamin D for more specific information about Vitamin D3 supplementation.