Spending time outdoors soaking up the sun is beneficial not only for a healthy-looking tan, but for your heart’s health as well. Studies have shown that vitamin D, which is primarily obtained through exposure to the sun’s rays, can help in preventing coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes.
A recent study appears to have pinpointed the exact levels of vitamin D in the blood necessary for preventing coronary problems. Dr. J. Brent Muhlestein, of the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, led the research which was presented recently at the American Heart Association’s 2015 Scientific Sessions.
From Medical News Today:
Individuals who do not get enough vitamin D through dietary sources or sun exposure often have vitamin D deficiency – when the levels of the vitamin in the body are too low, which is determined by measuring levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) in the blood.
Muhlestein and his team determined that 25-OHD levels below 15 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) were associated with a 35 percent increased risk of experiencing a “cardiovascular event.”
The study involved four groups of people who were categorized based on their 25-OHD levels: those with less than 15 ng/mL, and those with levels between 15–29 ng/mL, 30–44 ng/mL or more than 45 ng/mL.
The research indicated that all three groups with 15 ng/mL levels of 25-OHD or above shared essentially the same lowered risk levels. In other words, vitamin D supplements are unlikely to benefit those with levels above the 15 ng/mL benchmark.
Dr. Muhlestein said:
This study sheds new light and direction on which patients might best benefit from taking vitamin D supplements. Even though there’s a possibility that patients may benefit in some way from achieving higher blood levels of vitamin D, this new information tells us the greatest benefit to the heart will likely occur among patients whose vitamin D level is below 15 ng/mL.
Since one out of 10 people have 25-OHD levels below 15 ng/mL, Dr. Muhlestein recommends taking the simple blood test necessary to determine what an individual’s levels are so that supplements can be prescribed, if necessary.
More about vitamin D
Vitamin D plays several roles in promoting health. It is necessary for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and is useful in preventing heart disease, but it is believed to provide other benefits as well.
Among the other benefits of vitamin D are its ability to reduce the risk of influenza and type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with elevated risk and severity of certain childhood diseases and allergies, including asthma, eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Vitamin D may also play a role in helping the body fight and prevent cancer, and is also believed to play a role in healthy pregnancies.
Deficiencies in vitamin D are suspected of causing many other health problems:
Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity and swine flu, however more reliable studies are needed before these associations can be proven.
Although sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, it can also be found in oily fish, egg yolks and cheese. There are also supplements available, but it is recommended that people should rely on natural sources as much as possible to increase their levels:
It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from a whole food. First focus on obtaining your daily vitamin D requirement from sunlight and foods then use supplements as a backup.