Low vitamin D could double your risk of heart disease.

Here’s the latest on the sunshine vitamin! Vitamin D (technically really a hormone called ergocacliferol) is made in our skin when we’re exposed to sunshine. We need it to absorb calcium for our bones and to keep our immune systems strong. The problem is that sunshine may not provide enough Vitamin D to keep you healthy. I’ve had clients with the best tans you’ve ever seen and have Vitamin D levels that are in the tank. There’s more to the story.

Now a just-released study out of the University of South Australia is the first to show that low levels of vitamin D put a person at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiency is considered a blood level of <20ng/mL. The “normal” range for Vitamin D levels is 30-100ng/mL. It is felt that ideal Vitamin D levels are >50ng/mL. From a study published in 2020, it is estimated that 24% of Americans have a Vitamin D level <50ng/mL.

This new study, published in December 2021, used a genetic approach to compare actual vitamin D levels to cardiovascular risk. The study used information from close to 300,000 people from the UK Biobank. The results are considered to be strong statistical evidence for a link between vitamin D deficiency and heart disease. Here are some details:

➡ The study defined sufficient vitamin D levels to be anything equal to or greater than 50 nmol/L.
➡ Individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D had more than double the risk of heart disease than those with sufficient levels.
➡ The researchers estimated that improving people’s vitamin D status to 50 nmol/L or greater would prevent 4.4% of heart disease cases (maybe even up to 6%).

It’s not surprising that vitamin D would influence heart health. There are vitamin D receptors on heart tissue, and vitamin D could indirectly influence heart health through its effects on immune and inflammatory pathways.

On the other hand, a study from Australia in 2017 showed the opposite findings in that Vitamin D supplements were not found to help reduce heart disease. Participants in this study were given either 100,000 IU of Vitamin D daily versus a placebo with follow up for 3.3 years. The heart disease rate was about 12% in each group over the study period. Keep in mind that this was very high dose Vitamin D supplementation and genetic risk factors were not addressed in that study. In addition, all participants started with a Vitamin D level of <20ng/mL.

The study that got my patients to take their Vitamin D supplements is from 2014. This study was a meta-analysis (review) of 32 studies looking at Vitamin D levels and mortality. They found that all-cause mortality was higher in patients with Vitamin D levels less than 30ng/mL. The highest mortality rate was found in patients whose Vitamin D levels were <10ng/mL. This means that if your Vitamin D level is <30ng/mL, your chance of dying from any cause is higher than the general population. Speaking of doses, here is a table of various Vitamin D supplement dose recommendations.

As you can see, most Vitamin D experts recommend a supplement dose of 2000-4000 IU daily. The supplement dose is listed on the label and may be in micrograms. For reference, 125 mcg is equivalent to 5000 International Units (IU). However, most of the experts themselves are taking over 5000 IU per day and 15% of them take 10,000 IU per day. The best dose is that which gets the Vitamin D level in your blood >50ng/mL. You can boost your vitamin D levels by spending time in direct sunlight (without sunscreen), eating vitamin D-rich foods (fortified foods, oily fish, and mushrooms), or taking vitamin D supplements. Here is a Vitamin D list of supplements from my Fullscript dispensary which include gel caps, liquid, and chewable Vitamin D supplements. Click on the link, sign up for an account, and I have a 10% discount built into my dispensary. Once you make your first order, I’ll raise your discount to 20% off retail. https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/btreacy-vitamin-d-supplementation-options

Have you had your vitamin D levels checked recently? If you haven’t, ask your doctor to order that level the next time you have labs. If you want to order your own direct access Vitamin D level, go to the link below and order the kit. They will send you everything you need to get this level checked. Instructions, blood tubes, a doctor’s order and FedEx mailers are included in the cost of the kit. It could be the best $47 you spend this year.

Here is the link to order your own Vitamin D blood level:

If you need guidance or health coaching through your health journey, send me an email to bryanjtreacymd@gmail.com and let’s work together!

#hearthealthmonth #hearthealthawareness #hearthealth #vitaminD

Zhou A, Selvanayagam JB, Hyppönen E. Non-linear Mendelian randomization analyses support a role for vitamin D deficiency in cardiovascular disease risk. Eur Heart J . 2021.

Over 200 Scientists, Doctors, & Leading Authorities Call For Increased Vitamin D Use To Combat COVID-19 Scientific evidence indicates vitamin D reduces infections & deaths. Open Letter #VitaminDforAll, October 2020. https://vitamind4all.org/letter.html

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