Everyone knows by now how important vitamin D is to our body. It helps protect us from depression, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and cancer. It’s the reason we feel so good after a day spent outside in the sun, and fortified in various dairy and cereal products. Now that summer is very much over and the holidays are upon us, it’s time we get a little more vitamin D to protect our heart.
A recent study presented at the American Heart Association 2009 Scientific Sessions, found that those people over 50 years old who had very low levels of vitamin D (less than 15ng/dl) were 77% more likely to die, 45% more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78% more likely to have a stroke.
This means that you (yes, you) should get your vitamin D tested as soon as possible especially if you are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease or already have heart problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugars. When asking for the test, you are looking for the 25(OH) Vitamin D3 test. Normal is considered between 30 – 100ng/dl however additional research shows that numbers between 50-100ng/dl have greater benefit for chronic disease prevention and possible cancer protection, including breast and colon cancer.
Those at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency are those who avoid the sun, always wear sunscreen, are at higher latitudes (hello fellow Portlanders!), have darker skin, obese, and the elderly. Talk with your health care provider and get tested to determine your levels before you begin high doses of vitamin D supplements. Standard initial doses are somewhere between 1000IU to 2000IU however you may need more depending on your results.
Know that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and needs fat or oil to absorb. Therefore buy a supplement that is in an oil base (like a gel-cap) or take your capsule with food.
Get your whole family tested as research (and experience) show that kids can be low just as easily as the elderly. Do good this holiday season and protect your heart!
1) Bair T, May H. Vitamin D: Potential Role in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.