Vitamin D Doesn't Love Your Heart

Vitamin D not found to improve blood pressure or arterial stiffness

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Vitamin D supplements have long been mentioned as a way to lower cardiovascular risk. A new trial did not find that such supplements provide a benefit for the heart.

Though the study did not find that vitamin D could lower blood pressure or provide other cardiovascular benefits, researchers said additional longer term trials would be needed.

"Try regular exercise to give your heart a health boost."

Adam D. Gepner, MD, the study's lead researcher from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, initiated the study because little data was available to support the claim of using vitamin D supplements to protect the heart.

During the double-blind trial 114 healthy women with an average age of 64 were randomly selected to receive either 2500 IU of oral D3 -- a vitamin D supplement -- in a cookie, or an identical cookie without the vitamin D. The women were asked to eat a cookie daily for four months.

At the beginning of the study researchers also performed laboratory assessments, including evaluating endothelial function through a specialized ultrasound. The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels, and is suspected of playing a role in plaque build up in the arteries.

Researchers also measured arterial stiffness, which is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, by evaluating pressure in a test similar to how blood pressure is monitored.

Other lab work included tests to check glucose levels, calcium, blood pressure, cholesterol, hormones and inflammation of the biomarker high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Those tests were repeated after four months.

Though the vitamin D level of the participants eating the cookies with the supplement increased as expected, researchers did not find a significant difference in improved endothelial function, arterial stiffness or inflammation, which suggests the supplements did not offer a cardiovascular benefit or reduce the risk of heart disease.

The supplements also did not improve blood pressure pressure.

Researchers did not evaluate vitamin D's potential impact on heart attack, stroke or risk of dying.

The research was recently published in journal PLoS One.

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Review Date: 
May 17, 2012
Last Updated:
July 27, 2012