Vitamin D – More important than we thought
Most people are aware that they need to monitor their blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Now there is research that says Vitamin D levels are so crucial that it should be added to this list.
There are many benefits to maintaining proper levels, making it more important to overall health than once thought.
Vitamin D deficiency affects over 50% of all American adults and is even higher in the elderly.
Unfortunately, a deficiency is very hard to recognize and so most people are unaware. But there is new research showing that this deficiency contributes to high blood pressure, inflammation, insulin level increases and more. It also plays a crucial role in preventing coronary heart disease.
Vitamin D is not abundant in any food source and typically would be obtained by being out in the sunlight throughout the day. However, the American lifestyle of working in an office, exercising in a gym, and wearing clothing that covers most of our bodies (especially when it is cold), leaves us at risk of not getting enough.
This lifestyle, lacking sun exposure has resulted in the need for oral supplementation.
Many health experts now advise adults get 1,000 IU or more each day.
The main food sources of Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D Milk – 8 ounces – 100IU
- Oily Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) – 3.5 ounces – 200-360 IU
- Many breakfast cereals – 40-100 IU per serving
Most people still do not receive enough, even with these food sources and vegetarians, people that are lactose intolerant, the elderly, the obese, and dark skinned people are usually even more deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor in high blood pressure, diabetes, and inflammation.
A study done in Omaha, Nebraska in the winter showed that it took 3000 – 5000 IU per day to maintain these healthy blood levels. This shows that the RDA is well below what our bodies need.
Maintaining optimal blood levels may protect you from multiple sclerosis, influenza, bone fractures, and coronary heart disease.
-Dr. Michael Holick, University of Boston
In a study of 1500 women who had osteoporosis (which causes bones to become week and brittle), 52% had blood levels below the minimum 30 ng/ml and 18% had blood levels below 20 ng/ml.
Likeliness of deficiency In America
In a study done in Miami Florida, where it is sunny most of the time, they found that in the winter months, 40% of the people tested were deficient because of their lifestyle. There was only a small improvement in the summer.
Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to diminish the ability of the heart muscle to pump as efficiently.
This deficiency contributes to endothelial (blood vessel) dysfunction, and can distort the structure of the heart muscle.
In addition it can increase smooth muscle growth in the coronary artery wall (which leads to plaque formation) and it has been linked with congestive heart failure.
To make the point stronger, a database from the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction shows that of the 259,891 people in their system, 53% had an increase in heart attacks during the winter months when they were getting the least Vitamin D from the sun.
Here is what one doctor has to say:
“I foresee an increasing number of studies linking vitamin D deficiency to most of the diseases of modern civilization. Furthermore, I foresee a backlash by many in organized medicine who simply cannot accept the possibility that such a simple and cheap compound can have such health benefits. I foresee lawsuits against practicing physicians who don’t accept the importance of vitamin D. For example, researchers at Harvard just announced that the five year survival for patients with early stage, non-small cell carcinoma of the lung was almost three times better in those with evidence of the highest vitamin D levels compared to those with the lowest. Five-year survival for those with the highest levels approached 80%! I predict similar claims will be filed against cardiologists for letting heart disease patients die vitamin D-deficient as the evidence mounts that vitamin D prevents and treats heart disease.”
-Dr. John Cannell The Vitamin D Council
Vitamin D Benefits
People that have reduced levels are more likely to have high blood pressure. The combination of Vitamin D and calcium reduces systolic (top number) blood pressure most likely by suppressing the renin hormone.
Vitamin D reduces C-reactive protein which reduces inflammation.
People with lower blood levels are at a higher risk of Diabetes. Vitamin D supplementation reduces blood sugar and increases sensitivity to insulin.
Osteoporosis and Stress Fractures
Most women are prescribed expensive prescription drugs for their bone health. Yet most of them are deficient in Vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in bone health. It is more beneficial than calcium and even enhances calcium absorption.
When blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are low, young men experience an increase in stress fractures.
Scientists have proposed that lack of Vitamin D during the winter months, makes people more susceptible to the flu.
-Dr. Reinhold Vieth University of Toronto
There are many benefits to maintaining proper Vitamin D levels for cardiovascular and overall body health. Making it an important part of an every day wellness program.