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December 3, 2008

Vitamin D Vital for the Heart

Topics: Health Issues
835003005994.jpgNew research finds that a lack of vitamin D, which is absorbed primarily through exposure to sunlight, helps boost the risk of heart attacks and strokes. So much so that, according to the study, someone with vitamin D levels below 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood is twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem within two years as someone with the recommended 20 nanograms per milliliter.


Vitamin D is well known as the "sunshine vitamin" because human skin makes the nutrient upon exposure to sunlight. Only 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day will be enough for whites to reach the recommended level, experts say. People with darker skins will need somewhat longer exposure. Sunscreen can also block vitamin D production, the experts add.

People must balance the risks and benefits of sun exposure, however. "A little bit of sunshine is a good thing, but the use of sunscreen to guard against skin cancer is important if you have more than 15 to 30 minutes of intense sunlight exposure," O'Keefe noted.

Some foods are also rich in vitamin D, he noted. "Salmon and other deepwater fish are good," O'Keefe said. "Also milk, which is supplemented with vitamin D. But you would have to drink 10 to 20 glasses of milk a day to get the recommended intake."

Recommended vitamin D intake is 200 international units a day up to age 50, 400 units for ages 50 to 70, and 600 units a day over the age of 70.

One way to reach that level is to pop a supplement, O'Keefe said. "There is strong evidence that supplementing vitamin D improves health."

"This is an important report," said Robert U. Simpson, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Michigan, whose group was the first to identify vitamin D receptors in heart cells. "It will help those interested in cardiovascular disease understand more about the vitamin D system."

Vitamin D is not just another vitamin, Simpson said. "It is a precursor to a hormone, and this prehormone is responsible for making a very important regulator of cardiovascular processes," he said. (More ...)

As for which supplement to use, vitamin D3 is the recommended form. There are 5 forms of vitamin D. The two major forms are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both forms are present in human nutritional supplements. When our skin comes into contact with UVB radiation, it synthesizes only vitamin D3. Both of these forms are prohormones, precursors to the vitamin D hormone that goes on to perform all of the beneficial processes that have been mentioned. However, the vitamin D3 form is about 3 times more effective at creating the vitamin D hormone and its duration of action is longer that the D2 form. Supplementing with vitamin D3 would be the wiser choice.

I include D3 in my own supplement regimen and purchase it online from Vitacost, which I have found to offer the most effective product for the most reasonable cost. If you don't include a regular vitamin-mineral supplement in your own daily routine, you should take use the product that includes calcium and magnesium. It is also important to know that although most multivitamin supplements contain only 400-800 IU of vitamin D, and this is only 10 to 20 percent of what is necessary for optimal physiologic function. For people unable to obtain 20-30 minutes of full-body sun exposure on an almost daily basis, it has become clear that high-dose vitamin D supplementation (a dosage range of at least 3,000-5,000 IU per day) is necessary to ensure that physiologic needs are met, and so that optimal health can be obtained and maintained.

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Posted by Hyscience at December 3, 2008 8:32 AM

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