Vitamin D and heart health: Scientists discover that high doses reverse stiffness in arteries

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, new research suggests that you might be better off with daily vitamin D supplements. This is according to a new study that was published recently in PLOS ONE, where researchers tested to see the effects of high doses of vitamin D on arterial stiffness.

The study, which was conducted with obese or overweight African-American volunteers, was done over the course of 16 weeks. The researchers opted for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and found that supplementation had a positive effect on the participants.

According to a report on the study, the group of researchers behind it hailed from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. They took vitamin D deficient individuals who were obese or overweight and of African-American descent, gave them either vitamin D3 supplementation or placebo, and measured any changes to their arterial stiffness after the prescribed period.

What the researchers found was that in pretty much all cases, vitamin D3 supplementation caused a noticeable improvement. As Dr. Anas Raed, one author on the study, concluded: “Arterial stiffness was improved by Vitamin D3 supplementation in a dose-response manner in overweight African Americans with vitamin D efficiency. It significantly and rapidly reduced stiffness.”

Details of the study

According to the researchers, their RCT included a total of 70 participants aged 13-45 years old. All subjects were given either the monthly equivalent of daily vitamin D3 doses (600, 2000, or 4000 IU/d) or placebo. And on-duty medical staff had to be the ones administering the supplements each month in order to ensure compliance.

To measure the severity of arterial stiffness, the researchers used Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) from the carotid artery of the neck all the way to the femoral artery. PWV is an accurate way of measuring arterial stiffness down to the most minute changes thanks simply to the easy-to-track speed of blood flow between two points.

The researchers state that the 2000 IU/d group were able to see a two-percent improvement in their arterial stiffness by the time the 16-week supplementation was over. The 600 IU/d group went through a minimal stiffening of the arteries of 0.1 percent, while the placebo group showed a two-percent increase in stiffness.

Meanwhile, the dose of 4000 IU/d in one group showed the most significant effects: The response in vitamin D blood concentration was reportedly highest in them. By the time that the study wrapped up, the high-dose group had risen to a level that was much higher than that of the other ones. Based on that, the researchers concluded that perhaps getting a little bit of extra vitamin D offers some unexpected extra health benefits.

Arterial stiffness is just one of many inevitable conditions that comes with old age. So it’s a good thing that it can be treated by increasing one’s vitamin D intake, whether through natural or supplemental means. In any case, arterial stiffness has also been known to be affected by physical exercises, such as Pilates and yoga. Supplements can serve as a nice kind of backup options in case such types of physical activity isn’t possible.

As for the healthy effects of vitamin D, there have been numerous previous studies elaborating on them. It’s good to know that vitamin D deficiency can be remedied with supplementation, and the results of this new research only add more evidence that support its effectiveness.

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