Additionally, new data found that vitamin D supplements do not provide the support for preventing a number of health issues as commonly believed.
Vitamin D can strengthen bones, boost immune function, and support heart health; however, high doses of the vitamin do not improve heart and circulatory health for most adults any more than modest doses, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“Only small to moderate amounts of vitamin D are needed to have optimal cardiovascular function,” said study author JoAnn E. Manson MD, DrPH, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in a . Press release. “More is not better.”
Ongoing research has found that adults taking moderate- or high-dose vitamin D supplements of approximately 1,000 IU do not have a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular-related death compared with adults who administered a vitamin D-free placebo.
Additionally, new data found that vitamin D supplements do not provide the support for preventing a number of health issues as commonly believed. For example, higher vitamin D intake has not been found to prevent cancer, bone fractures, or falls, and it has not alleviated knee pain, cognitive decline, or atrial fibrillation, among other conditions.
The National Academy of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 600 IU of vitamin D for people 1 to 70 years of age and 800 IU for adults 71 and older. However, Manson added that it was reasonable for adults who were concerned about not getting enough vitamin D to take a daily supplement of 1,000-2,000 IU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With all this information, the best way to get vitamin D is through occasional sun exposure, which includes being physically active outdoors, eating vitamin D-rich foods, and reading nutrition labels to make sure get the right amount.
To assess heart health, researchers conduct randomized, controlled trials, including the VITAL test. Between 2011 and 2013, more than 25,000 adults were enrolled in VITAL, which found that high-dose vitamin D supplements did not prevent cardiovascular events.
After an extensive review of 21 randomized trials, Manson found that vitamin D and cardiovascular disease “did not show a clear benefit of vitamin D supplementation in preventing heart disease or stroke.”
Elements such as exercise, diet and inflammation levels were all targeted as reasons why adults with higher levels of vitamin D were less likely to have cardiovascular disease in observational studies.
Researchers are now focusing on how high-dose vitamin D supplements can support immune function in people with autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and psoriasis. Other types of research around this topic include whether vitamin D can reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections, shorten recovery, and lower the risk of long-term COVID-19.
Further, vitamin D is being studied to see if higher intakes can slow its progression and reduce cancer-related deaths.
“There may be subgroups of patients who are at higher risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes who may benefit from vitamin D supplementation,” said Alvin A. Chandra, MD, VITAL researcher and assistant professor in the division of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical. The center, in a press release.
Other areas of study being evaluated are:
- Skin color and its relationship to vitamin D and sun exposure
- Underlying conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
- How vitamin D interacts with other nutrients
- Genetic link to vitamin D in terms of how the vitamin is metabolized and binds to receptors
Vitamin D for heart health: where the benefits begin and end. NIH. September 27, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2022/vitamin-d-heart-health-where-benefits-begin-and-end
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