New research suggests that keeping levels of vitamin D high can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death worldwide.According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, close to three quarters of a million people die of heart and vascular disease in the US each year. The American Heart Association says that there are more than 1.2 million heart attacks each year, and more than 7 million Americans have suffered heart attacks.The older we get, the greater the risk of heart disease and the lower the odds for complete recovery from a heart attack. But while some risk factors such as age and family history are out of our control, there are many things we can do to lower our risk.Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D could play a major role in preventing heart disease, particularly in older people. A recent study by the University of Warwick concluded that there is a strong association between high levels of Vitamin D and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
The research, which involved the review of a total of 28 studies with close to 100,000 participants, determined that middle aged and elderly people with high levels of D vitamin were 33% less likely to develop heart and circulatory problems.This conclusion confirms the findings of more than two decades of research on the importance of vitamin D benefits for heart health. Vitamin D deficiency has been strongly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, and artheriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.Though it is most commonly thought of as important to bone strength, Vitamin D has been proven to play an important role in many areas of health. Its primary function is to facilitate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are crucial to maintaining immune function, skeletal and muscular strength, and skin resilience.But ongoing research is suggesting that vitamin D benefits may go far beyond those already recognized. Epidemiologic studies in the United States and Europe have shown an inverse relationship between levels of the vitamin and the risk of numerous diseases, including several types of cancer.
In addition, both animal studies and clinical trials indicate that vitamin D sufficiency may help protect against several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.The body can manufacture vitamin D, and even brief exposure to sunlight will trigger its production. However, dietary sources of the vitamin are relatively limited (oily fish, egg yolks, and vitamin D-fortified milk are the most common dietary sources) and serious vitamin D deficiency has been recognized as a global problem.The National Academy of Sciences nutritional guidelines recommend vitamin D intake equalling 200 IU for children and adults up to age 50, 400 IU for adults ages 51-70, and 600 IU for adults over 70.