Vitamin D: The Heart of the Matter

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Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant.

This vitamin is essential to the body in many ways. One of the many benefits of this vitamin is its ability to support calcium absorption in your gut for optimal bones health. It promotes muscle strength and repair. Our immune system also relies on this nutrient for protection against bacteria and viruses.

Recent research indicates that it could have a positive impact on the reduction of major cardiovascular events in older adults such as heart failure, hypertension and heart failure. It also suggests that a vitamin D deficiency could increase the risk factor for these illnesses.

“Vitamin D is known to help from an arterial perspective,” says Caitlyn Keates, ND. “It helps the blood vessel lining and blood to flow more freely through that lining, thereby reducing a lot of the inflammation that’s within the arterial wall of the heart.”

“D” for deficient

Vitamin D deficiency is a global public health issue despite its wide-ranging benefits.  “When we see patients in practice, I’d say nine times out of 10, we see some sort of deficiency in vitamin D in their bloodwork,” explains Keates.

Sunscreen, a skincare essential, can reduce absorption of vitamin D by up to 90 percent. Age can also affect the amount of vitamin D that our skin absorbs. A person in their 80s, for example, will produce around half as much vitamin d compared to a person in their 20s.

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Some of the best sources are fatty fish such as salmon and trout. They also include fish liver oils, eggs yolks, and certain mushrooms (especially those that have been exposed to UV light in order to increase their vitamin content).

“We also have a lot of gastrointestinal concerns here in North America, and the gastrointestinal system is where we absorb our vitamin D,” says Keates. “I’ll often dose vitamin D, and the patient’s values won’t budge until we address what is going on within the gut itself.”

Deficiency and aging

Vitamin D deficiency causes our bodies to absorb less calcium from food, leading to a reduction in calcium stores. This increases the risk of fractures among older adults. This is particularly important for women who are going through or have just gone through menopause.

“Bone density becomes an issue as we go through menopause because we don’t have the same level of estrogen, which helps keep our bones mineralized and strong. So vitamin D is critical,”Brass Says

Low vitamin D levels are also linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, which are risk factors that increase with age.

Nutritional supplement

Health professionals often recommend a vitamin D supplement because it is difficult to achieve adequate vitamin levels from food and sun exposure alone. Not all vitamin D supplements are the same.

Brass recommends that people prioritize a vitamin D3 supplement (rather than D2), as it has been proven to be more effective.

Keates suggests that liquid-based supplements may be the better option depending on your lifestyle and circumstances. “Vitamin D is fat soluble, so it needs a carrier oil to be absorbed properly,”She says, explaining that an oil-based supplement already contains this fat source in order to ensure the vitamin’s bioavailability.

Heart of the Matter

While research is still emerging, and the connection between vitamin D and heart health is not yet conclusive, Brass says it’s about looking at the nutrient’s significance more holistically.

“Vitamin D has such a far-reaching impact,”She says “Yes, it’s going to support the health of your blood vessels and inflammation, but it’s also going to improve your immune health and reduce your risk of colds and flus; it has so many benefits.”Consider it as a perspective that we can all embrace.

Better Together

Recent research has shown that vitamin K2 is the best way to combine vitamin D for optimal health.

●                   Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin found in some animal products and fermented foods.

●                   The nutrient is difficult to obtain from food alone, so a supplement is often recommended.

●                   It helps ensure the calcium absorbed from vitamin D is properly funnelled into our bones.

●                   It can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing calcium buildup in the arteries.

●                   Taking vitamin D and K2 together is especially important for older adults.

Ray of Light

When it comes to vitamin D’s impact on heart health, one 2023 study, published in the British Medical JournalThe rate of cardiovascular disease in 60-84-year-olds was 9 percent lower with vitamin D supplements compared to those who were given a placebo. (The rate of heart attacks among the vitamin D group was 19 percent less).

Daily dose

How much vitamin D should you take as a supplement? Keates says each person’s daily dosage will vary depending on factors such age, weight, deficiency level (which is determined by a blood test). Your health care provider, whether it’s a naturopath or physician, can help you find the right dosage.

This article originally appeared in the February 2024 edition of alive magazine.

‘ Credit:
Original content by “Into the Heart of Vitamin D”

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