Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Diseases

There is mounting evidence that vitamin D plays an important role in reducing risk of developing cardiovascular disease as well as the diseases that often precede it such as diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease. The category cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease (heart attack), stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and congestive heart failure.

Several observational studies found that those with low vitamin D levels had increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in general and stroke, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease in particular. The evidence is largely from observational studies that enroll people in a study and take blood samples at that time, then follow them for several years, noting any adverse health outcomes.Risk reduces rapidly for increases of vitamin D levels above the lowest values, then more slowly as vitamin D levels reach about 40 ng/ml.

To reach this level takes 1000-4000 IU/day vitamin D3depending on a number of factors.

Vitamin D also reduces risk of several diseases that often lead to cardiovascular disease such as diabetes mellitus and, likely,chronic kidney disease.

It has also been proposed that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor forerectile dysfunction since about half of the cases of erectile dysfunction have vascular causes.

The mechanisms whereby vitamin D reduces risk of these diseases include reducing inflammation and the risk of arterial stiffness.Vitamin D also helps maintain insulin sensitivity for proper control of glucose. There issome evidence that vitamin D reduces levels of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C). It is not clear whether vitamin D affects blood pressure.

Published on: January 24, 2013
About the Author
Photo of William Grant PhD

William B. Grant has Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. He retired from NASA in 2004 to work on health studies full time, forming the non-profit organization Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center.

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