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- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is integral to bone health and immune function.
- Australian researchers investigated with older participants whether taking Vitamin D supplements could lower their chances of major heart-related events.
- Researchers provided participants with monthly vitamin D supplements they were to take over five years.
- Science anticipated a much more significant risk reduction, yet people taking vitamin D supplements did show an elevated risk of specific major cardiovascular incidents.
Recently released in BMJ Trusted Source, this study details an investigation conducted by a team of Australian researchers looking into vitamin D’s impact in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
This study focused on an older population aged 60 to 84 who were likely more at risk of heart conditions than younger age groups.
Researchers did not observe an effect of vitamin D supplements on stroke rates compared with both test and control groups; however, they did notice a reduction of 9 percent for significant heart attacks occurring among those taking the supplements in the latter.
Studies of Vitamin D
Heart disease (CVD) is one of the primary causes of death in America. While CVD affects people of all ages, those 65 or over seem most at risk from its devastating impact.
Given how dangerous CVD could be and its effect on healthcare systems, scientists have been searching for better treatments and ways to avoid CVD altogether.
The authors argue that prior studies did not demonstrate an association between vitamin D and reduced CVD risk and its biological effects; however, researchers believe these studies had some limitations, leading them to conduct an extensive examination focusing on elderly participants.
Researchers recruited 21,315 participants aged 60-84. Participants using vitamin D supplements or with histories of specific ailments such as sarcoidosis or hypercalcemia were excluded from study participation.
One group was given vitamin D every month for five years using 60,000-IU vitamin D-3 capsules, while the other received placebos.
Researchers collected baseline data on participants’ social and economic status, lifestyle preferences, and diet. Researchers then monitored for any adverse events that might arise during their research and conducted surveys. Finally, blood samples were examined to ensure participants adhered to their prescribed diets.
Participants provided all available medical data to allow researchers to gather data about cardiovascular events, medications they had prescribed, and even mortality statistics.
Do You Know the Benefits of Vitamin D to Heart Health?
Recent observational research studies suggest a correlation between higher Vitamin D concentrations and lower CVD incidences.
Although clinical research studies haven’t verified vitamin D supplementation’s positive influence on cardiovascular health, new evidence indicates it could provide some benefits.
Vitamin D supplements had a 19% lower heart attack risk than placebo supplements.
Vitamin D was also linked with lower levels of coronary revascularization procedures such as coronary bypass surgery or more commonly referred to as heart bypass.
Although those taking vitamin D experienced lower rates of major cardiovascular events by 9%, the results showed no decrease in stroke incidence rates.
The authors identified one potential explanation for the reduction of 9%; they suggest that those using statins or other drugs to support cardiovascular health could have contributed to its existence.
“For all major cardiovascular events, evidence existed of an increased impact in those taking statins or other cardiovascular medications before taking their baseline dosage,” according to the authors.
Researchers caution that more studies must be completed before being specific that vitamin D helps combat cardiovascular disease (CVD).
“Ultimately, this study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements could lower the risk of serious cardiovascular incidents such as myocardial infarction and coronary revascularization,” according to its authors.
“These results suggest that taking statins and other cardio-related drugs before baseline could increase its benefits, with subgroup analysis helping to shed more light on this question,” they add.
Do You Need Vitamin D to Decrease Cardiovascular Disease Risk?
Dr. Yu-Ming Ni of MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute in Fountain Valley, California, spoke with Medical News Today regarding this study’s results; according to him, they still need to reach significant enough for him to prove how vitamin D supplements help decrease CVD risks.
“From reading through this study, it would seem there may be an increase in the benefits of vitamin D supplements in terms of their ability to prevent cardiovascular diseases, specifically myocardial infarction,” as Professor Chung-tong Lin of Cornell University stated.
Dr. Ni commented on how this study does not provide convincing evidence of vitamin D supplementation positively impacting cardiovascular disease risk factors, even though there was some trend toward an effect.
Although Dr. Ni did not believe the research showed evidence that vitamin D could reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks, he acknowledged its significance for bone health.
Dr. Dmitriy Nevelev, assistant director of cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, had an alternative viewpoint on MNT’s research when discussing it with us.
Dr. Nevelev noted that major studies evaluating vitamin D’s impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its risks had not revealed a “significant impact.” He asserted that many research studies needed improvements, such as poor adherence to daily treatments, insufficient vitamin D intake, and an overall lower-risk group.
“This study exceeded its limitations by providing a monthly treatment that was highly adhesive, as well as enrolling an extensive clinical group with varied demographic characteristics. Overall, its findings supported vitamin D supplementation as possible to lower heart disease risks–albeit potentially less so,” according to Dr. Nevelev.
Dr. Nevelev agrees with the study’s authors and sees further research as necessary regarding vitamin D supplements and CVD.
Dr. Nevelev noted that even if these results don’t have immediate implications on supplementation practices, they indicate a need to conduct further studies to determine if an individual population is likely to benefit.
“Of particular note was the discovery that patients taking statins experienced an increase in heart diseases after supplementation with vitamin D, likely as a result of vitamin D helping the liver more effectively manage these medications.”Dr. Dimitriy Nevelev