Warms Your Heart

Ah, that amazing sunshine vitamin strikes again. Studies are now mounting (this is not the first) to show a strong link between vitamin D and your heart. Low vitamin D levels are linked to increased risks of heart attack. This latest study is a case control study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that shows your heart attack risk increases in a graded (or, in other words, dose-dependent) manner with progressively lower levels of vitamin D, even when other factors, like smoking and high blood pressure, are taken into account (or “controlled for”). Here are the impressive results of the study, as well as practical information on how to safely get the vitamin D you personally need-

Take Home Heart Study Details from Medscape:

  • The risk for MI increased by 2.1% per 1-ng/mL increment in 25(OH)D levels.
  • The risk was higher for fatal vs nonfatal MI, but the numbers of cases were not sufficiently high to determine the risks.
  • There was no interaction by age, blood pressure, body mass index, alcohol use, LDL cholesterol levels, or triglyceride levels.
  • After exclusion of men using statins, the RR for MI in men with hypovitaminosis D remained increased at 2.30.
  • Men with circulating 25(OH)D levels of at least 30 ng/mL had half the risk for MI vs those with lower levels independent of other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
  • A dose-response pattern was seen, with the lowest levels of 25(OH)D associated with the highest RR for MI (RR of 2.42 for levels < 15.0 ng/mL, 1.65 for levels between 15.1 and 22.5 ng/mL, and 1.72 for levels between 22.6 and 29.9 ng/mL).
  • Only 23% of men in the cohort studied had a 25(OH)D level of at least 30 ng/mL.
  • The authors noted that the current requirements for vitamin D will need to be increased, especially in those with low sun exposure, to reduce the potential risk for cardiovascular disease among those with hypovitaminosis D.
  • For example, to increase 25(OH)D levels from 12.0 to 35.5 ng/mL would require approximately 3000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and you can overdose on it. So how do you safely get enough vitamin D? First, are you a fern (pale skinned) or a palm (darker skinned)? You need vitamin D as much as your beloved plants need sun. You can get your vitamin D by either ten minutes (only 10!) of near-naked (no sunscreen) noon sun (doesn’t work if it’s morning or dusk), or you can take a 1,000 units a day Vitamin D supplement. Whatever you do, don’t get a sunburn – not only do you age your skin and risk wicked types of skin cancer, but your skin also starts breaking down vitamin D when the burning starts – thereby defeating the whole point of your sun exposure. But why even guess? Better yet, ask your doctor for a blood test – nothing like knowing what your personal vitamin D level is. Then you can dose accordingly. And, more importantly, however you get your vitamin D, you can make sure you end up in the good range for your health.

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