Increasing Vitamin D Levels May Help Cut Heart Disease Risks

April 3, 2010 – O’Fallon, MO — According to research presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting raising the amount of vitamin D in the blood appears to help some people; at least those deficient in the vitamin; reduce their risk of heart disease by about 30%. In the past, researchers have been uncomfortable randomizing people with low vitamin D into a group that does not receive treatment, because deficiency can contribute to weaker bones and has been associated with increased risks of several diseases, including several types of cancer (Los Angeles Times, 3/16, Roan). Patients who raised their vitamin D levels were 33% less likely to have a heart attack, 20% less likely to develop heart failure, and 30% less likely to die between visits to their physician. Currently, 30 nanograms are considered “normal” but those who increased their vitamin D levels to 43 nanograms per milliliter of blood or higher reduced their risks of the chronic diseases (Salt Lake Tribune, 3/16, May). According to the Nutrition Business Journal, people in the US spent an estimated $10 billion on vitamin and mineral supplements in 2008, despite the fact that recent studies undertaken to assess their benefits have delivered a flurry of disappointing results. The supplements failed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. Instead, major health organizations for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all advise against these supplements. Instead favor a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Unlike pills, these foods contain fiber plus thousands of health-protective substances that seem to work together more powerfully than any single ingredient can work alone (The Washington Post /Consumer Reports Insights, 3/16).

“We should be cautious as we interpret this study. This is not the first time that we have seen vitamin levels linked to health outcomes. For example about a decade ago there was a study that showed high dietary vitamin C and Vitamin E were associated with better cardiovascular heath but then follow up studies have not shown adding the supplement to be of benefit.” according to Thomas Wright MD, RVT the medical director of Laser Vein Medical Center in St Louis, Mo. ” I wouldn’t necessarily go out and buy some Vitamin D supplements because of this one study with the hopes of improving your circulation.”

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