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Study: Vitamin D Keeps Hearts Healthy In Men

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:57 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Supplements, Vitamin D, Men's Health, Heart Attack

More good news for vitamin D and its association with a healthier heart.



IMAGE SOURCE: iStockphoto/ art symbol for sun/ author: Fred_DL


Men who have low levels of vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” may be at higher risk for a heart attack, according to a study in the June issue of  Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that men, classified as deficient in vitamin D, were approximately 2 ½ times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those with adequate levels of vitamin D.

Men at risk for heart attack in general, combined with low levels of vitamin D, were at increased high risk to suffer a fatal heart attack, according to study author, Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study included 454 men ages 40 to 75, who had previously suffered a non-fatal heart attack, or died of heart disease, along with 900 other men who had no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The man were followed over a ten-year span, providing regular blood samples to measure their vitamin D levels.

Researchers defined deficiency as no more than 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood (15 ng/mL). The low end of the normal range is about 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood (30 ng/mL).

Vitamin D is important for bone health and helps the body absorb calcium. In adults, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and a deficiency in children is often associated with rickets.

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Foods fortified with the vitamin include milk, cereals and some orange juice. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish like salmon.

The reason vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” is because the body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for no more than 15 minutes a day without sunscreen with about 40 percent of the skin exposed.  Going longer without sunscreen is not recommended.

Adequate dietary intake is advised at 200 IU to 600 IU for adults. Some recommend 800 IU or higher for adults with osteoporosis.

Several recent studies have suggested vitamin D may offer a host of other health benefits, including protecting against various cancers such as breast and colon cancer, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

The latest research echoes a January finding, led by Dr. Thomas Wang of Harvard Medical School, who reported that those with low vitamin D levels have a higher risk for stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.

How the vitamin works is not entirely understood, but it may have some influence on regulating blood pressure, inflammation, or calcification of coronary arteries.

Perhaps not surprisingly, heart-related deaths increase in the higher latitudes during the winter when there is less daylight.

Consumers are advised to have their vitamin D levels measured via a blood test. # 

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