Are You Getting the Amount of Vitamin D Your Heart Needs? – Newsmax
Vitamin D is proving to be the boost that most people need to help them improve their heart function, but many Americans may not be getting enough of it, a top doctor says.
“Studies are showing what we’ve been finding all along – that vitamin D can lead to a dramatic improvement in heart function,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
“Not only that, but vitamin D also has a host of other benefits. Studies also show that people who are deficient in vitamin D are also at greater risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, and there’s also evidence that this vitamin helps improve mood.”
In a recent study, researchers in the UK found that a daily dose of vitamin D helped strengthen the heart function of people with chronic heart failure, which is a major cause of death in the U.S.
“This study is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of chronic heart failure,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Nearly five million Americans are living with the condition, which is characterized as the heart’s inability to pump enough blood.
This latest study involved more than 160 patients who were already being treated for their heart failure with proven treatment, including beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and pacemakers.
The participants took either vitamin D3 or a placebo for one year. In the 80 patients who took vitamin D3, the heart’s pumping function improved from 26 percent to 34 percent, but there was no improvement in a comparison group that did not take the vitamin.
“This is just the latest study that shows vitamin D helps heart health,” says Crandall, who began tracking vitamin D levels in his patients several years ago after noticing that some, despite living in sun-drenched Florida, were deficient.
“Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because your body synthesizes it from the sun, but even if you live in a sunny climate this doesn’t guarantee your vitamin D level is high enough,” adds Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.
He also pointed to another recent study by Swedish researchers who found that people who avoided the sun had a higher death rate than those who did not.
In this study, nearly 30,000 women were followed or 20 years. Researchers found that those who received sun exposure had a lower risk not only of cardiovascular disease, but also diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary diseases as well, Crandall adds.
In addition, vitamin D can also help lower cholesterol, says Crandall, citing another study in 2014 on postmenopausal women, which found that those given a vitamin D supplement had a small, but notable, drop in their cholesterol levels.
But if you’re not deficient in vitamin D, high doses can be toxic, Crandall warns. He recommends asking your health professional for a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.
“Most doctors don’t test for vitamin D, so you need to ask for it,” he adds.
To treat vitamin D deficiency, Crandall puts his patients on a daily dose of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 for three months, after which he reduces the dosage to a 2,000 IU maintenance dose.
“It often takes a year to get people who are deficient in vitamin D up to a high enough level,” he says. “I also consider people whose levels are low or on the low side of normal to be deficient in vitamin D, so I like to see levels on the high side of normal.” .
The best form of vitamin D supplementation is vitamin D3, but vegetarians may prefer vitamin D2 because it is derived from yeast, not animal products such as fish oil or lanolin, as is vitamin D3, he says.
Here are additional ways to boost your vitamin D level:
- Strike a balance on sun exposure. Don’t avoid the sun, but don’t be a sun worshipper. Avoid getting a burn, but make sure that parts of your body – like your legs, arms and parts of your torso, do get exposed to the sunshine.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamin D. While you can’t get enough vitamin D through foods, you can add to the amount you’re getting by eating fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Dairy products like egg yolks and cheese have small amounts of vitamin D. Cod liver oil is also a rich source.
- Choose foods, like milk or breakfast cereals, which are fortified with vitamin D.
- Don’t take your vitamin D supplement with coffee or tea. Caffeine can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins, including calcium and vitamin D.