VITAMIN D AND HEART HEALTHvdcp
Dr. Vijay Bang – Cardiologist
MD, DM, FCSI, FESC, FACC, FSCAI (USA)
Intervention Cardiologist/ Heart Care Services
Lilavati Hospital And Research Centre, Bandra, Mumbai
Vitamin D is a nutrient and hormone that is required by the body for various functions. It can be obtained from either dietary sources or from exposure of the skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Vitamin D can also be obtained through fortified foods or as a supplement. As such, deficiency of Vitamin D can be due to minimal sunlight exposure, inadequate dietary or supplement intake, and severe liver or kidney disease.
The risk factors that can cause Vitamin D deficiency are:
- Darker skin pigmentation since sunlight absorption gets limited
- Older aged people
- Any disease of the stomach and intestine due to absorption issues
- Any serious diseases of the liver or kidney
- Certain medicines
Therefore, in these people at higher risk of Vitamin deficiency, it is advised that they take Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D and risk of heart disease
Across the world, heart disease remains the leading cause of sickness and death for men and women. Vitamin D plays an important role in prevention of cancer, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes and bone health, but it has also been found to play the role of in the prevention of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with the higher risk of developing high blood pressure or sudden death due to heart disease, in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases.
The active form of vitamin D acts as a hormone by binding to the vitamin D receptors which are present in many different cells and tissues in the body and influence a variety of bodily functions. It is evident that low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, angina, heart attack, and stroke.
Possible mechanisms by which vitamin D helps in protection of heart includes anti-inflammatory effects, inhibition of smooth muscle growth and division, and improved glucose tolerance, all factors known to reduce the development of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D may affect the blood pressure as it exerts beneficial effects on the heart smooth muscle cells and fats in the blood, which are known as lipids.
Daily Vitamin D supplements can ensure that we have adequate of Vitamin D levels in our blood. This beneficially influences our heart and blood vessels and affects our risk of cardiovascular diseases. Data suggest that Vitamin D intake should be optimal and this is necessary for maximal health benefits.