Trident Health System - September 18, 2018

Vitamin D has long been touted for its benefits to bone health. But more and more research is showing a bigger role in health. Not only does Vitamin D help your body use calcium, regulate the immune system and ward off disease, but more and more research suggests D is a serious heart-helper.

In a study, adults who had the highest vitamin D levels had the lowest level of "cardiometabolic disorders" — the family of conditions that includes heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It’s all thanks to D's ability to reduce oxidative stress — a physiological process thought to encourage aging and cell damage. D also may help decrease levels of parathyroid hormones that damage blood vessels. And if you have high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or heart disease, getting enough D may be a safeguard against some of the damage that comes with those conditions.

New research is suggesting that vitamin D may help reduce a person's risk of dying from a stroke — by as much as 50 percent! And of course, finding out how to prevent a stroke naturally is always a plus.

More research is needed to confirm the link, but a Finnish study that followed about 6,000 people for more than 25 years showed that those with the highest D intake were significantly less likely to die of either stroke or heart disease, compared with the people with the lowest D intake. Those could be really big health benefits of vitamin D from one little pill.

Are you getting enough?

About 30-40 percent of people may be deficient in vitamin D. In a recent study, people who showed symptoms of vitamin D deficiency — such as bone pain and muscle weakness — had stiffer arteries and the cells that lined their arteries showed greater signs of dysfunction. But everything got better quickly — and their blood pressure improved, too! — once they got their D levels back to normal.

Anyone 60 or younger should get 1,000 international units (IU) per day. Up that amount to 1,200 IU daily if you're over 60 years of age. You've got three choices for reaping the benefits of vitamin D: sunlight, food and a supplement.

Disclaimer: Content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.