Vitamin D Deficiency Can Increase Risk of Heart Disease
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that vitamin D may be an essential nutrient for protecting against heart disease. Researchers have thoroughly studied the effect that vitamin D plays in bone health. However, they haven’t spent as much time studying the effects it plays on heart health.
The researchers in Copenhagen sought for an answer this question. Their study tracked more than 10,000 men and women throughout the country. Researchers tracked the amount of vitamin D they consumed and followed up with them over the course of nearly 30 years. They studied both the overall levels of vitamin D as well as the level of calcidiol. Calcidiol is a plasma that plays a key role in storing vitamin D.
The team analyzed blood levels from patients that were drawn in the early 1980s. During the 29 year followup period, more than 3,000 patients developed coronary heart disease, more than 1,600 suffered from a heart attack and more than 6,700 died. They did a analysis and determined that a lower level of vitamin D was correlated with:
- a 40% higher chance of developing coronary heart disease
- a 64% higher risk of developing a heart attack
- a 57% higher chance of shorter life expectancy
- an 80% higher likelihood of suffering from a fatal heart attack arising from coronary heart disease
Researchers were surprised by the correlation between lower levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of developing certain forms of heart disease and have a lower life expectancy. They also were surprised that vitamin D fortification didn’t appear to reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease.
Health professionals in Denmark recommend that patients have vitamin D levels of 50 nm/L. That is two thirds the level that doctors recommend in the United States. Based on the findings in this study, they may encourage their patients to consume more vitamin D in the future.
Borge Nordestgaard is the Chief Physician of Clinical Biochemistry and professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Nordestgaard said that the study is compelling and will likely force health care providers to rethink their recommendations about heart health and vitamin D. However, he said that more research will need to be conducted before researchers can determine the role that vitamin D plays in heart health. Future studies may reveal that poor heart health lowers vitamin D levels, but vitamin D deficiency doesn’t necessarily contribute to heart disease.
Not many foods have high levels of vitamin D. However, people can readily buy vitamin d supplements at pharmacies.