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Low Levels of Vitamin D May Lead To Heart Disease

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Besides being important in maintaining healthy bones, substantial levels of Vitamin D have recently been shown to be important in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Vitamin D is responsible for controlling the body's calcium uptake, and is therefore critical in maintaining bone strength. Vitamin D is considered increasingly important with increasing age, as the recommended daily dose for elderly (above 70 years) people is 600 IU (as opposed to a 200 IU recommended dose for those under the age of 50 and in good health, and 400 IU for those between 51-70). Vitamin D is sourced through sunlight, milk, certain types of fish, certain fortified foods and juices, egg yolk, and supplements. A glass of milk contains approximately 100 IU of Vitamin D, and an egg yolk is 25 IU, for example. For elderly people, it is very difficult to achieve the recommended dose without the use of supplements.
A recent Harvard Medical School study has shown that low levels of Vitamin D greatly increases the risk of having a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack. 1,739 individuals, with no prior CVD history, participated in the study, mean aged 59 years, and 55% being women. All individuals were Caucasian to maintain consistency in the results (African-Americans require more sunlight to increase Vitamin D levels than Caucasians for example, so the relation between Vitamin D and CVD may be different for African-Americans).
Follow-up examinations, which on average took place after 5.4 years, revealed that those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were approximately 62% more likely to have had a cardiovascular event.
These results, which are more of a starting point than a definitive answer as to Vitamin D's importance in preventing heart disease, do suggest that elderly people should focus more on Vitamin D in their diets, and should take supplements if necessary. Increasing age requiring increased need for higher levels of daily Vitamin D intake is a well accepted medical suggestion. The likely possibility that not maintaining this daily intake can also lead to cardiovascular events further raises the importance of consuming at least 600 IU of Vitamin D per day if one is over 70, as well as maintaining a healthy level of Vitamin D in middle-age. 

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Wang, Thomas. Pencina, Michael, et al. Circulation. "Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease." January 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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