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Increasing Our Vitamin D Levels May Reduce Heart Failure Risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Vitamin D and Heart

There is no longer any question about the role of Vitamin D for health maintenance. The ACC (American College of Cardiology) says most of us do not get enough Vitamin D. Increasing our Vitamin D levels my reduce our risk of developing heart failure, according to new research.

An estimated thirty to fifty percent of the population does not get enough Vitamin D. Researchers have been collecting data showing that low levels of that low 25-hydroxyvitamin D has a negative impact on heart health. Heart failure develops when the left ventricle of the heart fails to pump properly, leading to shortness of breath, weight gain from fluid retention and fatigue. Lower levels of Vitamin D can cause the left ventricle (lower heart chamber) to enlarge, contributing to high blood pressure, and a pre-disposing factor to heart failure. According to the ACC, taking Vitamin D supplements can keep heart failure at bay, in addition to preventing diabetes, preventing inflammation that can lead to other disease.

Getting enough sunshine is important. Recommended exposure is twenty minutes a day. Foods contains little Vitamin D unless they are fortified, making Vitamin D supplements an inexpensive option for protecting from heart failure. In fact, low vitamin D level is linked to heart attack risk.

Past studies have shown that too little Vitamin D can increase our risk of heart attack. One of the risks of heart failure is having experienced a heart attack, again making Vitamin D and important player for heart disease prevention.

According to James H. O'Keefe, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., "Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging cardiovascular risk factor, which should be screened for and treated." Dr. O'Keefe says Vitamin D supplementation is an easy and inexpensive way to reduce our risk of heart failure.

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The researchers looked at reasons why Vitamin D deficiency has become so prevalent. They concluded that we spend too much time indoors, and prevent Vitamin D synthesis when we use sunscreens. More than twenty minutes of sunshine daily can promote skin cancer. Sunshine benefits us, but skin cancer protection is still recommended if you plan to be outside for more than twenty to thirty minutes. Read more about HEART HEALTH.

People at risk for heart failure from Vitamin D deficiency should be screened, according to the ACC. Your doctor can measure Vitamin D levels in the bloodstream. People living in northern climates, elderly, obese and those who smoke are at highest risk of too little Vitamin D.

According to Dr. O'Keefe, "We need large, randomized, controlled trials to determine whether or not vitamin D supplementation can actually reduce future heart disease and deaths."

If you are at risk for heart failure, or other disease from Vitamin D deficiency, the researchers recommend 50,000 IU of vitamin D2or D3 once a week for eight to 12 weeks. Following initial treatment, you can decrease your risk of heart failure further by maintaining a regular routine of Vitamin D supplementation, recommended at either 50,000 IU vitamin D2or D3 every 2 weeks or 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D3 daily. Vitamin D supplementation is a simple means of reducing our risk of heart failure.

Source: Vitamin D Deficiency

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