An increase in blood levels of vitamin D can significantly reduce a person’s risk of heart disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta.
Researchers reviewed the health records of more than 9,000 people who had been diagnosed with vitamin D insufficiency and who had also undergone vitamin D testing at a later date. They found that approximately 50 percent of all patients had achieved healthy vitamin D levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter by the second test. Rates of heart disease were significantly lower in this group than among patients who were still deficient in the vitamin.
Prior studies have shown a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of heart disease. Yet researchers have been unable to determine whether there is any direct connection between the two factors, since low vitamin D levels might also correlate with a number of other cardiovascular risk factors such as general poor health, poor diet or lack of exercise.
The only way to firmly establish a connection would be to conduct an experiment where only half a group of vitamin D-deficient participants is supplemented while the rest receive a placebo. Because vitamin D deficiency has been proven to increase the risk of other diseases, such a study would not be ethical and cannot be conducted.
“What we did was observational and not definitive, but we think it adds significantly to the story,” said lead author J. Brent Muhlestein. “It’s at least a reasonable piece of evidence to add to the hypothesis that low vitamin D is causative of cardiovascular risk and treatment can reduce cardiovascular disease risk.”
The body synthesizes vitamin D naturally upon exposure to sunlight. Low levels of the vitamin have been linked to weakened bones and higher risks of infection, cancer and autoimmune diseases.?