Various studies suggest that vitamin D and the heart are related – so how does this vitamin affect your cardiovascular health?
Vitamin D is most commonly known as the vitamin you get from the sun. Some people have vitamin D deficiencies due to genetics while other people may not be out in the sun too much.
Do vitamin D deficiencies increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases? A growing number of studies suggest that this may, in fact, be the case.
These studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some of these include congestive heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and related conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
However, according to Dr Erin Michos, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the Division of Cardiology, the opposite may not be the case.
In other words, while low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, raising these levels may not lower the risk.
“Now that we have identified this risk factor for heart disease,” says Dr. Michos, “the question is, if you’re deficient and I give you vitamin D back, can I actually prevent a heart attack?”
Dr. Michos has contributed and analyzed a vast amount of data on vitamin D and its relation to the heart. She believes that a more conclusive answer to her question will result from large clinical trials taking place over the next five to eight years.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone and regulates more than 200 genes in the body.
It carries out multiple functions that benefit overall health. For example, it helps regulate blood pressure in the kidney and also helps regulate blood sugar levels in the pancreas.
Moreover, it keeps abnormal cells from multiplying in colon and breast tissues. It also increases the intestinal absorption of magnesium, calcium and phosphate, as well as other biological effects.
Vitamin D Deficiency
While people believe you get vitamin D from the sun, that is not quite right. The body naturally produces vitamin D and the sun is simply a catalyst that activates the body’s vitamin D receptor cells.
Due to the rising temperatures in the summer, low temperatures in the winter, and other circumstances such as pandemics, people are spending less time in the sun.
By avoiding the sun, people are experiencing a general vitamin D deficiency. Even those who venture outside will not get the benefits of the sun if they use too much sunscreen.
However, these are not the only factors associated with vitamin D deficiencies. Other factors include obesity, age, skin pigmentation, and sex.
According to Dr. Michos, even geography can be a factor as those who live farther away from the equator will not get enough UV light.
Maintaining Healthy Levels
Dr. Michos suggests that adults need between 1,000 to 2,000 International Unit (IU) of vitamin D per day. However, some of the previously mentioned factors come into play.
For example, someone living in a warm, tropical climate may already have healthy levels from the sun while someone from Alaska might not. The best way to check your levels is for your doctor to do a simple blood test.
Vitamin D can naturally be found in fatty fish such as salmon and fortified foods such as milk and orange juice. Still, the best way to get vitamin D is to get some sun exposure: about 10 minutes can give you what you need.
However, if you’re stuck indoors because of COVID-19 or any other factor, supplements can help with both vitamin D levels and other health needs. Take HeartBeet Complete as an example: it contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D along with other key vitamins and minerals.
Its formula contains beetroot powder, l-arginine, l-citrulline, turmeric, and more ingredients that help support heart health. If you want to both improve your vitamin D levels and heart health, try HeartBeet Complete.