Do your Lack of vitamin D increases heart problems?
- There is increasing scientific evidence that a lack of vitamin D is a cardiovascular risk factor that is related to a greater probability of suffering from hypertension and heart disease.
- Vitamin D is a hormone that plays a key role in the metabolism of phosphorous and calcium, which is why it is key to bone health.
- This is its best-known function, but in recent years it has been discovered that it is involved in many other organic processes and that its lack can affect other aspects of health.
- Scientists at the University of South Australia have found that vitamin D is also linked to cardiovascular disease.
- The study, published in the European Heart Journal, reveals that people with a deficiency of this vital hormone are more likely to suffer from heart disease and hypertension than those with normal levels.
- Study participants with the lowest concentrations had up to twice the risk of heart disease.
A dangerous bond
- Globally, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.
- These pathologies encompass both heart and blood vessel problems: hypertension, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis (accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries), heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke...
- On the other hand, low concentrations of vitamin D are common in many parts of the world.
- According to data from the UK Biobank (a large health database of thousands of people used for studies), up to 55% of participants have low vitamin D levels and 13% are severely deficient.
- Thus, two problems with a high incidence are added, vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular diseases, which could be related.
A real-time bomb
So much so that the authors of the study urge to consider the lack of vitamin D as another cardiovascular risk factor and take preventive measures in vulnerable populations such as those already suffering from cardiovascular pathologies.
More Vitamin D, Better Heart Health
- The research team analyzed data from almost 270,000 people and concluded that increasing the level of vitamin D in deficient people could have prevented almost 5% of cases of cardiovascular disease.
- All this is regardless of diet, exercise, or other variables related to cardiovascular health.
"Our results are exciting, as they suggest that if we can raise vitamin D levels within norms, we should also reduce rates of cardiovascular disease, " says Professor Elina Hyppönen, first author of the study.
- This is not the first time that vitamin D deficiency has been identified as a cardiovascular risk factor.
- Previous studies already pointed out that its deficiency could predispose to high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and chronic inflammation of the blood vessels (related to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis).
- It would also alter the levels of hormones such as insulin and increase the risk of diabetes.
Cardiovascular protective factor
According to the results of this study, to prevent cardiovascular disease it would not be enough to follow a diet low in saturated fat or exercise.
Ideal levels of vitamin D should also be ensured.
For this, the essential thing is to expose the skin to the sun for 30 minutes a day at times that do not pose an extreme risk to the skin. It must be done without sun protection. And if we don't want them to appear, for example, spots on the face, we can expose the arms, the back ...
90% of vitamin D is synthesized through sun exposure. The rest is obtained from food.
"Oily fish, eggs, and fortified foods and drinks provide us with vitamin D, but they are a poor source. Even a healthy diet can be deficient in the vitamin," Professor Hyppönen points out.
Doctors always advise that nutrients be obtained naturally through food, but if we cannot obtain vitamin D from the sun, taking supplements would be more than justified, provided that a blood test previously reveals that our levels are low.
These tips "should be especially taken into account in residential centers, where the incidence of cardiovascular disease is high and sun exposure is limited", stresses the professor.
In addition, vitamin D is also key to the proper functioning of the immune system (we have receptors for this hormone on T and B lymphocytes, immune cells that protect us from external aggression) which weakens with age, which is why older people are more vulnerable to infection.