A recent study conducted in Australia has suggested that regularly taking a high dose of vitamin D could potentially reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack in the long term. The study, which was published in the BMJ, involved randomly assigning over 20,000 adults aged between 60 to 84 to either take a large dose of 60,000 IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo once a month for a period of 5 years.
The results of the study revealed that approximately 6 percent of the participants who were taking the vitamin D pill had experienced a significant cardiovascular event such as a stroke or heart attack, compared to 6.6 percent among those who were taking the placebo. This suggests that individuals who took the monthly vitamin D supplement saw an average of 5.8 fewer cardiovascular events per every 1,000 people.
Further analysis of the data showed that the rate of major cardiovascular events, specifically heart attacks, was about 9 percent lower among those who took the vitamin D supplement compared to the placebo group. In fact, the rate of heart attacks was even 19 percent lower in the vitamin D group. However, the authors of the study noted that while the absolute risk difference may be small, this trial presented the largest evaluation of vitamin D’s impact on heart health to date and called for more research to be conducted in this area.
The researchers also highlighted the importance of considering individual circumstances when deciding whether or not to take a vitamin D supplement. Rachel Neale, a professor at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, emphasized that individuals who receive regular exposure to sunlight may not require a supplement. However, for those who do not get enough sun exposure, a vitamin D pill could be beneficial.
Neale recommended a daily dosage of no more than 2,000 IU for individuals interested in taking a supplement. She also emphasized that individuals over the age of 60 should not solely rely on the results of this study to start taking a vitamin D supplement and should instead take into account their medical history and overall health status.
Additionally, the study found that vitamin D’s effects appeared to be stronger in individuals who were already taking medications for cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. It is important to note, though, that the evidence supporting the benefits of higher vitamin D levels for heart health is suggestive and not conclusive for individuals who are not vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in regulating phosphate and calcium levels in the body, which is important for maintaining healthy muscles, teeth, and bones. It also helps regulate blood pressure and reduces inflammation, oxidative stress, and arterial stiffness.
While sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, there are certain foods that contain significant amounts of this essential nutrient. Seafood, including tuna, salmon, oysters, shrimp, and salmon, are rich in vitamin D. Milk, dairy products, and tofu are also good sources. However, it is worth noting that excessive intake of vitamin D in the form of supplements can lead to long-lasting health problems, such as kidney stones and plaque buildup in blood vessels near the heart. Common side effects of excessive vitamin D consumption include muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting.
In terms of the recommended dietary amount, individuals aged 70 and under are advised to consume about 600 IU of vitamin D per day, while those over the age of 70 should aim for 800 IU per day.
Despite the positive findings of this study, it is important to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before significantly increasing the dosage of vitamin D supplementation. Rachel Neale cautioned that while the study’s results were promising, it does not warrant an immediate change in policy. However, individuals at risk of heart disease may want to consider taking a higher dose of vitamin D supplement based on their personal circumstances.