Vitamin-D Deficiency May Increase Blood Pressure, Heart Disease: Study

The study reveals adequate vitamin D levels may help in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. 

Vitamin-D Deficiency May Increase Blood Pressure, Heart Disease: Study Image for representation

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is not only good for your bones, but also for your heart, said health experts, even as they called for more research to be done on its effects among the Indian population. A study, appearing in the European Heart Journal, found evidence that vitamin D deficiency can increase blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers from the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute stated that it is worthwhile to check vitamin D levels when assessing a person’s cardiovascular risk.

“Vitamin D influences the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone pathway, which regulates blood pressure. Adequate vitamin D levels may help in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure,” Dr Dixit Garg, consultant - cardiology, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two main forms: D-2 and D-3. As an essential micronutrient and one that is primarily derived from sunlight and certain foods, vitamin D is important for the development of bones and teeth and also the regular functioning of the immune system.

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A recent study, published by The BMJ, showed that the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks was 9 per cent lower among people aged over 60 taking vitamin D supplements. The rate of heart attack was 19 per cent lower and the rate of coronary revascularisation was 11 per cent lower in the vitamin D group, but there was no difference in the rate of stroke between the two groups. 

“Vitamin D receptors are present throughout the cardiovascular system which are able to convert vitamin D to its active form, which inhibits inflammation and also affects blood vessels,” Dr. Tushar Tayal, Lead Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

“For this reason, it was assumed that vitamin D deficiency may have been linked to heart disease but research did not show any significant difference in the incidence of heart attack in individuals taking vitamin D supplement as compared to those not taking it,” he explained.

Another recent study from the University of Eastern Finland showed that elderly men and women who took vitamin D supplements for five years had a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation or irregular heart rhythm.

Vitamin D is essential for the proper metabolic functioning of the body. People who live in areas that have less sunlight, like places where the weather is mostly rainy or cloudy, are more likely to have a low vitamin D level. 

“In India, we have a lot of exposure to the sun. So, vitamin D levels in Indians are not that low. Although we don’t have the standards for the Indian population yet. So, we follow the levels defined by Americans and Europeans, and don’t know whether it is right among the Indian population," top cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director, Medanta Hospital, told IANS.

While people who are exposed enough to the sun will have enough vitamin D, with the modern lifestyle, a lot of people are not getting enough exposure because we are always inside in air-conditioned spaces. In that case, people may need supplements, he noted. 

Dr Garg explained that besides heart and bones, vitamin D also plays a major role in diabetes.

“Vitamin D is necessary for optimal glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Diabetes is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, and a lack of vitamin D may contribute to insulin resistance and impaired glucose management. 

Appropriate vitamin D levels have also been linked to a lower risk of certain diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.  

“Low Vitamin D level is not good for metabolic cycles and enzymes of the body. That’s why supplements are good. It also contributes in building of bones and general metabolism. So, it is an important ingredient of our metabolic system,” Dr Trehan said. 

While vitamin D supplements generally do not have any adverse effects on the heart, “but if you overdose and take 10 times the quantity, then you will have toxic effects,” he noted.