Vitamin D helps prevent high blood pressure
Not getting enough Vitamin D can trigger high blood pressure, according to the world’s largest study to examine the link between the two.
Researchers presented their findings at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) on June 11 in Paris, France. They collected data from 35 studies that included more than 155,000 participants from different parts of Europe and North America.
Dr. Vimal Karani S, from the Institute of Child Health at University College London led the study, which found that participants with high levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D – known chemically as 25(OH)D – had reduced blood pressure and were at a lower risk of developing hypertension.
"We knew from earlier observational studies that low 25(OH)D concentrations were likely to be associated with increases in blood pressure and hypertension, but correlation is not causality,” said Dr. Karani.
“Additionally, randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation in humans have produced inconsistent effects on cardiovascular outcomes. The whole picture was somewhat confused, and we decided to try to figure it out once and for all."
The researchers used genetic variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (or SNPS), as proxy markers to measure the participant’s vitamin D levels and test for an association with blood pressure.
They found that for every 10 percent increase in 25(OH)D concentrations, the risk of developing hypertension decreased by 8.1 percent.
According to Dr. Karani, the approach they followed allowed them to make accurate conclusions.
"By using this approach we can determine the cause and effect and be pretty sure that we've come to the right conclusion on the subject," Karani said.
Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem in the Western world because that’s where obesity rates are highest, and obesity can cause Vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published in a recent issue of PLoS Medicine.
There are two ways that people can obtain Vitamin D:
1. By eating or drinking it; and
2. By exposing the skin to sunlight, which triggers the production of vitamin D
There are many health benefits to having high levels of Vitamin D. Not only does it improve bone health, but researchers from Boston University School of Medicine report in PLOS ONE that people who have a high amount of vitamin D have a significantly better immunity and reduced risk of several diseases.
Having a Vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased risk for diseases of the autoimmune system, as well as increase your risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
According to Dr. Karani, the study provides further data to support the importance of Vitamin D, suggesting that Vitamin D supplements or food fortification can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"We now intend to continue this work by examining the causal relationship between vitamin D status and other cardiovascular disease-related outcomes such as lipid-related phenotypes for example, cholesterol, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, and type 2 diabetes and markers of glucose metabolism,” Karani concluded. "We believe that we still have a lot to find out about the effect of Vitamin D deficiency on health, and we now know that we have the tools to do so."
SOURCES: 1. European Society of Human Genetics, "Genetic research clarifies link between hypertension and Vitamin D deficiency" (June 14, 2013). 2. “Influence of Vitamin D Status and Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Genome Wide Expression of White Blood Cells: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial”, Hossein-nezhad A, Spira A, Holick MF (2013); PLoS ONE 8(3): e58725. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058725