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Vitamin D For Heart Health

In recent years, warnings about the harmful effects of the sun on our skin have increased. The danger emanating from the sun’s rays should not be underestimated, as they are ultimately held responsible for the development of skin cancer. This is also the reason why more and more people are avoiding sunlight – with far-reaching consequences for their heart health, among other things.

Vitamin D – the sun hormone

Various scientific studies have shown that vitamin D is very similar to various steroid hormones, so from then on it was referred to as a hormone. Since then, vitamin D has been known as the sun hormone.

The explanation for this name lies in the fact that vitamin D is produced by the body itself, exclusively in connection with sunlight.

As a messenger substance, it then reaches the bones, the muscles, the brain, the immune system, the pancreas, and many other body organs via the blood, in order to fulfill its specific tasks there. But how does the body react to a vitamin D deficiency?

We will illuminate this question using the example of the cardiovascular system.

How vitamin D is made from sunlight

The precursor of vitamin D is formed in the liver. When the sun’s rays shine on the skin, vitamin D develops into the first precursor of vitamin D3.

The skin itself then forms another precursor of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Now the vitamin D3 has to be transported from the skin back to the liver, where it is processed further.

The resulting vitamin is now called calcidiol and represents the basis for vitamin D metabolism. The calcidiol then finally reaches the body cells via the blood, where the active form of vitamin D3 – calcitriol – is produced.

Please note: Vitamin D3 is offered as a dietary supplement in the form of calcidiol. Calcitriol is only available as a prescription drug.

Supplementation for lack of sun

The important influence of vitamin D on bone health has been emphasized for decades. A daily dose of 600 IU/day was recommended for adequate intake, while at the same time a vitamin D blood level of 20 ng/ml was considered normal.

Today, however, many experts are of the opinion that this value should be at least 50 ng/ml so that vitamin D can develop its optimal effect. Given this new finding, an amount of 4,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 taken through supplementation (dietary supplements) is now believed to be a recommended dosage, as long as one does not spend enough time in the sun.

However, the amount of vitamin D actually required must always be considered individually, as it depends on various factors. On the one hand, the starting point, i.e. the amount produced by the body itself, must be taken into account.

In addition, the amount absorbed by the intestine also differs greatly from the dose supplied. That depends very much on the respective intestinal health.

In addition, the weight of the person also plays an important role. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it often disappears unused in fat deposits, especially in overweight people.

Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2

It is impossible to overdose on vitamin D due to exposure to the sun on the skin. The situation is different with supplementation with vitamin D3. Here an overdose, which could then cause heart problems, cannot be completely ruled out.

In order to benefit optimally from the effect of vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D3 should be taken together with vitamin K2 (MK-7). Both vitamins show a synergetic effect, which can dissolve calcium deposits inside the arteries and in the heart valves and transport them to where the calcium actually belongs – in the bones.

Inflammation can trigger cardiovascular disease
Vitamin D has many positive effects on the cardiovascular system. This finding is particularly important, as meanwhile every second person dies as a result of a disease of this system. People with high blood pressure are up to three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than people with normal blood pressure.

Some cardiologists now want to put an end to the widespread misconception that cholesterol is responsible for the development of cardiovascular diseases. They believe that arterial inflammation, not cholesterol, is at the root of all cardiovascular problems and heart disease.

The causes of arterial inflammation

A large proportion of these inflammatory reactions are due to poor diet. The cardiologists blame a vitamin D deficiency for the rest. This thesis was confirmed, among other things, in an eight-year study (Ludwigshafen risk study) on 3000 participants. The study found that vitamin D deficiency significantly increases the risk of dying from heart disease. American studies have also confirmed this connection.

The explanation for the effectiveness of vitamin D in relation to cardiovascular diseases is based on the fact that vitamin D can protect against inflammation of all kinds.

Given this fact, it is not surprising that many recent studies have confirmed the link between vitamin D deficiency and the ever-increasing death rate of people with heart disease.

The Brazilian study on vitamin D

The studies mentioned were carried out in hospitals specializing in the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. One of these studies was conducted in Brazil and published in 2012.

In the 206 patients who took part in this study, the vitamin D level in the blood was initially measured. After that, the participants were divided into two groups. One group of patients had a vitamin D level of 10 ng/ml or below and was therefore considered to be deficient. The other group had a vitamin D level of 20+/- 8ng/ml which was considered normal. After all, these were patients who were already suffering from coronary heart disease.

A significantly higher percentage of study participants who had severe vitamin D deficiency died during treatment in the hospital than those patients whose vitamin D blood levels were normal for their circumstances.

The scientists came to the following conclusion:

Severe vitamin D deficiency has a significant impact on the mortality rate of patients with the acute coronary syndrome (circulatory disorders in the coronary arteries).
In other words, you are significantly more likely to die in a hospital after a heart attack if you have insufficient levels of vitamin D in your blood.

The Danish study on vitamin D

In September 2012, a Danish study carried out at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the Copenhagen University Hospital was reported. This study involved more than 10,000 Danes whose vitamin D levels were measured between 1981 and 1983. The values ​​have been checked regularly over the years.

The leader of this study, Dr. Peter Brøndum-Jacobsen, announced the following result:

We have observed that low levels of vitamin D in the blood significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease or worsening existing conditions compared to optimal vitamin D levels. Our results showed that the risk of developing ischemic heart disease increases by 40%. This disease describes a narrowing of the coronary arteries, which leads to severe circulatory disorders in the heart muscle, causes pain in the chest area, and can ultimately trigger a life-threatening heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack increases by 64%. The risk of premature death is increased by 57% and the risk of dying from heart disease in general increases by as much as 81%.

The American study on vitamin D

Another study was conducted at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This study involved almost 28,000 patients over the age of 50 who did not have any heart disease at that time. The vitamin D level in the blood was first determined for all participants. They were then divided into three groups based on the measurement results (very low value, low value, normal value). The guide value considered normal in this study was 30 ng/ml.

The study found that those patients who had very low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die of heart failure than those who had normal levels of vitamin D in their bodies. In addition, study participants in the group with the lowest vitamin D levels were 78% more prone to stroke and 45% more prone to coronary artery disease.

Overall, it has been found that very low vitamin D levels are twice as likely to cause heart failure than people with normal levels.

The best source of vitamin D is the sun

All research results relating to vitamin D clearly show that our body is dependent on this vitamin so diseases that can also be attributed to a vitamin D deficiency do not develop in the first place. Use this information for the benefit of your health. Expose yourself to natural UV radiation as often as possible. Let the sun touch your skin whenever possible, but keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Do not expose yourself to the blazing sun, because the sun’s rays reach you even in sheltered places.
  • Depending on the skin type, exposure to the sun should not last longer than 5 to a maximum of 40 minutes.
  • Avoid the midday sun, as dangerous UVA radiation is at its highest during this time.
  • For short stays in the sun, do not wear sunscreen, as sunscreen with sun protection factor 15 almost completely blocks vitamin D production.
  • If you also check your diet and optimize it if necessary, your heart should feel better soon.
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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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