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A Woman's Heart, Vitamin D Deficiency - the "New" Risk Factor for Heart Disease

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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.

In 2008, Johns Hopkins Medical researchers released findings of a study linking low levels of Vitamin D to not only an increased risk of death compared to those with healthy Vitamin D levels, but an increased risk of heart disease as well. The study pool of participants consisted of 13,000 healthy men and women from diverse backgrounds. During the course of the study, the risk of death between participants with low versus high levels of Vitamin D were tracked and compared. The results were quite startling.

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

Add a Comment5 Comments


Thanks for sharing the link with us. Vitamin D deficiency is rapidly becoming an epidemic and the full benefits of it are becoming more recognized. I think it's a Vitamin that we'll all be taking a second look at in the future.

September 28, 2009 - 12:53pm

take a look at www.vitaminD3world.com for some good summaries on the benefits of vitamin D

September 23, 2009 - 6:34pm

Well, you're right.

September 23, 2009 - 5:01pm

Dan... I read your posts and it sounds as if you've had a terrible experience at this hospital for which I'm genuinely sorry.

Johns Hopkins is not the only medical institute which has conducted research on Vitamin D and it's impact on your heart health. If you do a Google search, you'll find many articles relating to this topic. As a nation, we've certainly become more sedentary and spend more time than ever indoors. Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise and is linked to many serious conditions, including heart disease. One of the things that we've learned in this series is that we have to address every risk factor we have to put ourselves in a heart healthy posture. Heart disease is the number one killer in the US. If addressing a Vitamin D deficiency can help even one of my "sisters" out there live a longer, heart healthier life, then I want them to have that information so that they can evaluate it for themselves and whether or not it's right for them.

This article was for Vitamin D information purposes only and not hospital endorsement purposes.

September 23, 2009 - 2:40pm

I wouldn't trust anything coming out of Johns Hopkins Medicine: http://adventuresincardiology.com/

September 22, 2009 - 9:38am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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