Periodically in my research, I come across a little “jewel” of information that is unexpected and in the long run potentially quite beneficial. While doing some research recently on Multiple Sclerosis, I came across just such a “gem.”
I’ve long known that low levels of Vitamin D were associated with a number of health conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders. What I didn’t know is that low levels of Vitamin D may also be linked to heart disease.
Low levels of Vitamin D were found to increase the participants’ risk of death by 26%! Of the 1800 study participants who died, 700 died from cardiovascular disease! Of those 700, more than half (400) were known to have a Vitamin D deficiency. While the number of deaths isn’t enough to be a valid statistical sampling to “prove” the causal relationship between low Vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease, it certainly is enough to give pause for consideration. One of the assistant professors at Johns Hopkins, Michos, indicated that there was enough evidence to consider a Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for developing heart disease.
This information was of particular interest to me since I have a condition that is linked to a Vitamin D deficiency. I’ve known about the link between a Vitamin D deficiency and this condition for a quite some time. Since I know that my Vitamin D levels are low, I take a Vitamin D supplement daily to compensate. I’m lucky. I knew I had low Vitamin D and have already addressed this risk factor. Unfortunately, many of my “sisters” may be out there running around at risk and not even know it.
How do you know that you’re at risk? What can you do to protect yourself and your heart?
1. Know your Vitamin D blood levels. If you’ve never been tested for a Vitamin D deficiency, talk with your doctor about screening your Vitamin D levels. A Vitamin D blood level of less than 17.8 nanograms per milliliter is considered unhealthy.
2. Add Vitamin D to your diet. One way that you can ensure that you are getting enough Vitamin D is by changing your diet. Sardines and Mackerels are rich in Vitamin D.
3. Get some sunshine! Tell your boss that you need a healthy heart break and go outside for 15 minutes a day and soak up some sunshine. (If they will let you have a smoke break, then a strong case can be made to let you have a break to do something that will only make you healthier!) Sunshine is still one of the best natural sources of Vitamin D!
4. Dietary supplements. Vitamin D levels can be boosted by taking a Vitamin D supplement or cod-liver oil. (Sorry, sisters. I personally can’t do the cod liver oil!)
5. Get moving! Vitamin D levels go up with exercise, so move! (Maybe you could talk your boss into giving you a 15 minute break in the morning for “sunshine” therapy and another 15 minute break to walk around the building in the afternoon? Keeping you healthy is only to his/her advantage!)
6. Spread the word. Since this is a relatively new risk factor for heart disease, let your friends and family know so that they can evaluate their risk and protect themselves and their heart health.
Until next time, here’s wishing you a healthy heart.
(Disclaimer: I am not a physician and nothing in this article should be construed as giving medical advice. As with any medical decision, please consult your physician.)
Low Vitamin D Levels Pose Large Threat to Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 11 Aug 2008, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2008/08_11_08.html