Adequate vitamin D levels may support heart health

Published on

17 November 2011

According to new studies, a sufficient blood vitamin D concentration may decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

In a 16-year-long study of 2,016 healthy, postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 58, compared low and adequate blood vitamin D concentrations to incidences of death, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Low vitamin D concentration was defined as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter. The study results showed that women with low vitamin D levels were more subject to heart-disease risk factors compared to the women with adequate vitamin D. Women with low vitamin D levels also had higher triglycerides, fasting glucose, and body mass index results. Their high-density lipoprotein ( HDL, “good” cholesterol) levels were lower, as were hip-waist ratios. Of the women with low vitamin D, 15% suffered heart failure, heart attack, or stroke – which often led to death – compared to 10.2 percent of the group with adequate vitamin D.

Another study suggests that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties could protect the heart. Study participants who took 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily for 5 days after an acute coronary event had less post-event inflammation than patients who did not take vitamin D. The study sheds light on the anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D on the vascular system and may explain some of the vitamin’s cardio-protective properties.

Moreover, a new 2-year study of 982 patients with chest pain and suspected acute coronary syndrome indicate that vitamin D status may help to predict mortality for sufferers of this disease: vitamin D levels were markedly lower among patients who died than in long-term survivors over the 2-year study. In an additional trial, higher concentrations of vitamin D were consistently associated with lower death rates from vascular and non-vascular causes.


  1. Presentations at the American Heart Association Conference 2011, Orlando, Florida, USA.

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