The past decade has seen thousands of studies published that all demonstrate the profound importance of obtaining sufficient amounts of the sunshine vitamin from food, sun exposure and supplementation. No other nutrient has been shown to exert such a wide range of health benefits, yet millions of children and adults suffer needlessly because they do not have sufficient blood levels of circulating vitamin D.
Vitamin D comes from sunlight and is also found in food such as oily fish, eggs, breakfast cereals and powdered milk
In a new, major study published in the American Heart Association journal Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, researchers from the University of Kansas found that low levels of vitamin D are associated with a markedly higher risk of heart attack and early death. Scientists determined that in people with low blood levels of vitamin D, boosting them with supplements more than halved a person's risk of dying from any cause compared to someone who remained deficient.
The study set out to investigate the connection between vitamin D levels and the incidence of heart disease and early death in a cohort of more than 10,000 people from Denmark. In addition, the researchers included meta-data from 35 pertinent studies covering a lengthy time span of 29 years. Study author, Dr. James Vacek noted "We expected to see that there was a relationship between heart disease and vitamin D deficiency; we were surprised at how strong it was... it was so much more profound than we expected."
Optimal vitamin D blood levels lower risk of early death by more than 80 percent
In this study, scientists compared those individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D (fewer than 15 nanomol per liter, accounting for five percent of the population analyzed) to those considered in the normal range (more than 50 nanomol per liter, or approximately 50 percent of the cohort). The researchers noted that declining levels of vitamin D were directly associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction and early death.
The authors found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D experienced a 64 percent higher risk of heart attack, 57 percent higher risk of early death, 40 percent higher risk of ischemic heart disease and at least an 81 percent higher risk of death from heart disease. The researchers concluded "We can ascertain that there is a strong statistical correlation between a low level of vitamin D and high risk of heart disease and early death. The explanation may be that a low level of vitamin D directly leads to heart disease and death."
In addition to the cardiovascular findings, the team determined that people with deficient levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have diabetes, 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and about 30 percent more likely to suffer from cardiomyopathy (heart muscle weakening). The bottom line is simple: supplement with an oil-based form of vitamin D3 (most adults require 5,000 to 7,000 IU per day, depending on weight and individual metabolism) to reach ideal blood levels of 50 to 70 ng/mL (as measured by a 25(OH)D blood test) to thwart heart disease and chronic illnesses leading to an early death.
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