According to a 2008 study published in The American Journal of Medical Sciences, Vitamin D insufficiency is quite common in the US although consumers can easily access health information, dietary supplements, and healthy foods. Sadly, individuals who lack this vitamin are likely to develop cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart failure, hypertension and stroke.
Enhancing Heart Health
For starters, exposure to direct sunlight lowers blood pressure substantially within six weeks according to a study published by the NIH. In the same vein, research conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) found that ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol supplementation has no discernible effect on blood pressure. For this reason, it is wise to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors whenever the weather is sunny.
Remember to wear sunscreen to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. At the same time, include ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol-rich foods in your diet. These include beef, liver, fortified products, cheese, and fatty fish. Some breakfast cereals, yogurt and infant formula brands as well as milk products are fortified with these vitamins to combat health issues such as rickets.
Recommended Daily Allowance
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies recommends that adults (19 years and older) ingest 600 to 800 IUs of vitamin D daily. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for children under the age of 13 ranges from 400 to 600 IUs per day, whereas the RDA for teens aged 14 to 18 is 600 IUs daily. Nevertheless, a scientific paper published by the NIH says that some health experts believe that these RDA guidelines are inadequate for healthy adults, especially those with physically demanding jobs and lifestyles. Health experts who challenge the RDA guidelines propose raising the RDA for adults to 1,000 IU per day.
Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Health – A Scientific Look
Before proceeding further, it is worth noting that this vitamin consists of two variants ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3). The skin synthesizes cholecalciferol when the body is exposed to solar radiation. On the other hand, the body synthesizes ergocalciferol from foods such as egg yolk, salmon, cod liver oil, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Its deficiency is linked with health problems like cystic fibrosis, renal failure, and elevated catabolism.
In fact, several clinical studies have found that cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol deficiency leads to poor cardiovascular health. The opposite is true for people with adequate levels of these vitamins. However, it is not known why these vitamins have such an influence on heart health. Some researchers reckon that these vitamins exert some influence on blood sugar levels, the renin-angiotensin system and calcium levels in smooth vascular muscles.
Another study published in the Johns Hopkins’ Vascular and Medicine Institute found that coronary heart disease mortality rates tend to spike in winter when cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol are at their lowest levels. Another surprising finding is that people living further away from the equator have lower levels of these vitamins compared to people living closer to the equator.
The former group of people also tends to experience higher rates of blood pressure complications than the latter group. Besides these studies, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that cholecalciferol/ergocalciferol deficiency increases the risk of hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, heart failure, weight gain/obesity, and high triglyceride levels. Finally, a study published by the NIH found that cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol deficiency increases the risk of a fatal stroke by a staggering 50%.
“Where Can I Buy Vitamin D?”
Vitamin D supplements are readily available at your local Walgreens, Walmart and other drug stores that sell over the counter supplements. We’ve found, that if you’re unsure of what to buy, visit Amazon.com and see what sells the best and read through buyer’s feedback. Currently the best selling Vitamin D supplement on Amazon is NatureWise Vitamin D3. With over 2,800 reviews and priced at $14, this supplement is easily affordable for most consumers.
Although researchers do not know how it works, vitamin D has a huge influence on cardiovascular health. In particular, low ergocalciferol/cholecalciferol levels correlate with elevated risk of fatal stroke, peripheral arterial disease, hypertension, and high triglyceride levels. Luckily, these health complications can be resolved via sunlight exposure and eating foods that are rich in ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol.