Skip to comments.Vitamin D levels linked with health of blood vessels
Posted on 04/03/2011 2:17:16 PM PDT by decimon
A lack of vitamin D, even in generally healthy people, is linked with stiffer arteries and an inability of blood vessels to relax, research from the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute has found.
The results add to evidence that lack of vitamin D can lead to impaired vascular health, contributing to high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Study participants who increased their vitamin D levels were able to improve vascular health and lower their blood pressure.
The data is being presented on Sunday by Ibhar Al Mheid, MD, a cardiovascular researcher at Emory University School of Medicine, at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans. Al Mheid is one of five finalists for the ACC's Young Investigators Award competition in physiology, pharmacology and pathology. He is working with Arshed Quyyumi, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Emory Cardiovascular Research Institute.
The 554 participants in the study were Emory or Georgia Tech employees average age 47 and generally healthy -- who are taking part in the Center for Health Discovery and Well Being, part of the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute.
The average level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a stable form of the vitamin reflecting diet as well as production in the skin) in participants' blood was 31.8 nanograms per milliliter. In this group, 14 percent had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels considered deficient, or less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, and 33 percent had levels considered insufficient, less than 30 nanograms per milliliter.
The researchers monitored the ability of participants' blood vessels to relax by inflating and then removing a blood pressure cuff on their arms. To allow blood to flow back into the arm, blood vessels must relax and enlarge a change that can be measured by ultrasound. The researchers also made other measurements of smaller blood vessels and examined the resistance to blood flow imposed by the arteries.
Even after controlling for factors such as age, weight and cholesterol, people with lower vitamin D levels still had stiffer arteries and impaired vascular function, Al Mheid says.
"We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension," he says.
Throughout the body, a layer of endothelial cells lines the blood vessels, controlling whether the blood vessels constrict or relax and helping to prevent clots that lead to strokes and heart attacks.
"There is already a lot known about how vitamin D could be acting here," Al Mheid says. "It could be strengthening endothelial cells and the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. It could also be reducing the level of angiotensin, a hormone that drives increased blood pressure, or regulating inflammation."
Most Americans generally get the majority of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or from dietary supplements; fortified foods such as milk or cereals are a minor source. A few foods, such as oily fish, naturally contain substantial amounts of vitamin D.
Participants whose vitamin D levels increased over the next six months, either from dietary supplements or ample sun exposure, tended to improve their measures of vascular health and had lower blood pressure. Forty-two study participants with vitamin D insufficiency whose levels later went back to normal had an average drop in blood pressure of 4.6 millimeters mercury.
"This was an observational study, rather than an interventional one, and it was difficult to tease out how the people who restored their vitamin D levels got there," Al Mheid says. "We are hoping to conduct a study where we have participants take a defined regimen of vitamin D."
"With his findings showing the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and vascular dysfunction, Dr. Mheid has helped advance our understanding of the importance of Vitamin D in preventing a common health problem in aging adults," says Kenneth Brigham, MD, medical director of the Emory/Georgia Tech Center for Health Discovery and Well Being. "Additionally, ongoing health studies based on the Center's collection of health information from participants will yield more discovery as the Center continues to develop."
The Emory-Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute is a national leader in moving the practice of medicine from a reactive, disease-focused system to a proactive health-focused system. The initiative integrates research, scholarship and education in an innovative effort aimed at revolutionizing care of people to define, preserve and prolong the health of individuals and of society.
Key areas of the Initiative include defining and measuring health using optimal biomarkers of health and understand their interrelationships, determining the best interventions to optimize health throughout an individual's or a population's lifetime.
The Emory-Georgia Tech Center for Health Discovery and Well Being supports this endeavor in real time by helping people maintain their health through a demonstration program that is using the new tools of biomedicine to profile the current health status of participants and design personalized interventions.
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.
Vitamin D ping
How about some sunshine, too?
Vitamin d in larger amounts than the modern man can imbibe or soak in, seems to be more necessary for optimal health than we knew.
Supplementation with d3 seems to be the only way to get over 60 in the bloodstream, and the results just in preventing viruses will be evident immediately.
Got cod liver oil?
Good you asked. I am typing on the Cali. beach... as we speak.
Very interesting. I’ve recently been on mega-doses of Vitamin D (prescribed) and my blood pressure has come way down. Jives with the study.
Thanks for posting this.
“Supplementation with d3 seems to be the only way to get over 60 in the bloodstream, and the results just in preventing viruses will be evident immediately”
We take 4,000 units of D3 per day. Have given up flu vaccines and have not had a sniffle in over a year.
How much are you taking?
Us too! I take even more than that - testing showed I needed well over 10,000 units. My kids take it too and are never sick, though they are exposed to everything. it’s been the greatest thing ever for our health, and still people pooh pooh it, saying “I drink milk” as if it has enough D in it, and they are constantly sick, colds, allergies... Who knew that getting 4 colds a winter is NOT normal?? No flus here either, and we were exposed a LOT.
What’s mega? And how long did you see an improvement in your BP? thanks.
You answered before I asked. LOL!
I’ve been taking it for 7 months after my last physical showed low Vitamin D levels. I noticed a substantial improvement in BP after about 4 months. Wasn’t sick this winter either, although that’s probably just anecdotal at this point.
Did your dr suggest it? Also, how much is that a day - about 160IU a day?
Yeah, MD, Master of Disaster
Git nekked to get enough sun.
According to one of the patients who is married to a Doctor her husband thinks its a fad. Whether it is or not about 60% of the pateints coming in for blood work are having some form of the Vitd test performed. $$
Yep, doc suggested it. They’re testing for it in the blood screen.
I think that’s about 1600 IU/day.
I’ve read that the high amounts of Vitamin A make cod liver oil a questionable supplement. I go for fish oil from either salmon, mackerel or anchovies with a Vitamin D pill.
Unfortunately the amount in milk is so minimal you have to drink a LOT of milk to really make much of a dent.
Me too, but I did get a bad cold this year. I don’t think its the panacea for everything (I don’t believe one exists, humans will catch things on occasion, we are not made to live indefinitely). However, it appears to have made a tremendous difference in some health issues I had. I’m a believer that at least some people (me for sure) need more than the average American lifestyle and diet supplies and it’s really important for some important body functions.
You got a good doc! I meant 1600. Thank you!
I am generally skeptical about all of this kind of thing, but I had serious medical issues this year, and I can only tell you that this is one of the few changes I made. Of course, I have no real proof it’s what helped. But, my neurologist is very supportive and doesn’t want me to stop taking it. And I know I won’t stop.
One thing about doctors and what they think tho.... I’ve seen a LOT of doctors over the past 10 years, unfortunately. Some of them seemed dumber than me. So, just because someone is a doctor doesn’t make me give their opinion much credence anymore. I’m just sayin....
sunshine? milk? cod liver oil?
that’s right. Avoid Cod Liver oil because, although it does contain a lot of vitamin d, it also has a lot of Vitamin A in the dangerous form (retinol) that de-activates your vitamin D.
There have been some studies that seemed to show too much vitamin D was bad for you, but a closer look at those studies proved that ONLY those who supplemented their D (such as in the Scandinavian countries with Cod Liver Oil) were the ones that had negative outcomes.
Instead of quizzing everyone else how much vitamin D3 you need, just take daily whatever you feel is a good amount, and get your blood tested a month later. You will probably learn you could and should have taken 2x or 3x as much to get your blood up to summer time levels.
-best source for toxicity info or general vitamin D info is at http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/news.shtml
Another good vitamin that also help reverse heart disease is vitamin K2
(see vitaminK2.org and go to “scientific presentations” to watch their video)
4,000 IU per day. for the past few years.
BP before.... 135/89
Heart inflamation markers....low
Haven’t had the flu or a cold in 4 years :)
Of course, changing diet, losing 60+ lbs and exercising are big factors as well.
Surprising that it was overlooked for so long.
Thanks for the ping. Our doctor didn’t prescribe it for me, though he did for my wife.
Who want's to take a 5 year bet on whether trying to get to vitD=60 will be found to be a dangerous, feel-good panacea, that high supplementation with vitamin D just hides the symptoms of any problems?
I'll take the anti-vitamin-D side.
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At the first sign of a cold or flu we take Oil of Oregano. It is as powerful as any antibiotic and is also a strong anti viral. We swear by it. Also colloidal silver and MMS.
I go on the theory that the human body builds antibodies by actually getting sick. Works for me. I am rarely very sick and don’t take a bunch of unnatural substances.
I can only say, I hope you’re wrong. I really want the answer to be this simple. :(
Oil of Oregano is totally natural. Its the oil of the wild oregano plant. You get it at the health food store.
After retiring early we finally started taking D3. (Two specialist just knew it was something in the classroom, when it was actually what was not in the room.)
Was on my son to get tested. Finally he did this winter. One niche above "morbid". He's on a 9000/day prescription. He told me he hadn't realized just how bad he was feeling until he'd been on it for a couple of month.
My dad took it before skin cancer treatment. Dr was amazed at how fast he healed.
IMO we are just seeing the tip of the "D" iceberg. Feel absolutely wonderful and haven't had even a cold or the flu in the last couple of years.
It’s amazing. I am so happy for you.
It’s all about the testing. I was taking 2000 units a day, in hot sunny SoCal September 2010, when I had my doctor order a vit D test. Lo and behold, I had a level of 24, very low. While I was exposed to sun daily, and taking 2000 units daily! So I upped my dose to 10,000 units daily and after a few months got tested again, and it was only 45, still not a good therapeutic dose. To prevent cancer, etc, they recommend 60 in the blood or higher. I had to up my dose to 15,000 units. Never felt better in my life with the exception of pregnancy fatigue, lol.
We are all vitamin d deficient and who knows what it’s doing to us? Who knows how many serious flus and cancers could have been prevented? If you take one 600 unit supplement or whatever is in hour useless multivitamin, do you think your vitamin D level is Ok? Bet it’s not. Sadly, everyone needs testing.
My kids take a significant amount and got through this winter without any of the colds, flus, and stomach flus that whipped through their circle of friends.
Yes, but it’s a supplement. I’d just as soon let my body go ahead and take care of things viral, which it seems able to do without trouble. It’s how it’s designed to work.