Vitamin D for heart health is a relatively new line of study, but the more researchers look into it, the more they are realizing just how important this vital nutrient is for good cardiovascular health. Though Vitamin D is most closely associated with maintaining healthy bones, we now know that it has much more far reaching effects, which makes it crucial to get the right amount each day.
So what exactly is Vitamin D and what makes it so important? Despite its name, it is actually a hormone and not a vitamin, and it helps with the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body. As these are vital nutrients for bone health, this is why Vitamin D has always been directly linked to having strong, healthy bones and why a deficiency of Vitamin D can result in developing the nutritional disorder rickets.
In more recent years, doctors have also discovered a link between Vitamin D and the immune system. Because it is an important ingredient in maintaining your body’s natural defenses, getting the right amount of Vitamin D can protect you from developing a host of illnesses including dementia, type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer. And now the importance of vitamin d for heart health is also being recognized.
Research on Vitamin D for heart health
Various studies have a shown that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to increased arterial stiffness and dysfunction of the endothelium, the layer of cells that surrounds the heart and blood vessels. The result is reduced heart function, poor circulation and an increased risk of fatal strokes. There has also been a noticeable increase in the risk of patients with cardiovascular disease developing fatal cancers if they don’t get the proper amount of Vitamin D.
Now that we better understand the importance of vitamin d for heart health, the next question is how to ensure that you are getting enough on a regular basis. We do get some Vitamin D naturally, mostly through calcium rich foods like milk and dairy products, but for most of us this is still not enough to meet the recommended amount. This is why most milk has been fortified with extra Vitamin D, but even this still isn’t enough.
Another good natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight, which is why it is often referred to as “bottled sunshine”. When your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, that UV light is synthesized and helps the body to create its own supply of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, with increased concerns about developing skin cancer, the use of sun block has become more common in the past few decades and this greatly reduces our ability to get enough Vitamin D through sun exposure.
What’s the ideal amount of Vitamin D per day?
Despite the best efforts of the dairy industry to add extra Vitamin D to their products, most of us still fall short of getting the right amount of this vital nutrient in our regular diet. In order to get the minimum recommend intake of vitamin D for heart health, which is between 1,000 and 3,000 IU per day, it may be necessary to add a multi-vitamin containing Vitamin D or a Vitamin D supplement to your daily routine.
As important as it is to get the proper amount of Vitamin D, it is equally important to make sure that you don’t get too much. An excess of Vitamin D can actually be bad for the heart as it can lead to coronary calcification, which in turn contributes to cardiovascular disease.
As with any supplement, you should consult with your doctor before you start taking extra Vitamin D so that you can determine your exact level and just how much you need to keep your heart healthy.