Increasing vitamin D levels may cut heart disease risk

I may have blogged more on vitamin D this year than any other topic. And, now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting, “Raising the amount of vitamin D in the blood appears to help some people — at least those deficient in the vitamin — reduce their risk of heart disease by about 30%.” This is according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting.

In the past, “researchers have been uncomfortable randomizing people with low vitamin D into a group that … does not” receive treatment, because deficiency “can contribute to weaker bones and” has “been associated with increased risks of several diseases, including several types of cancer.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the researchers reported that “patients who increased their vitamin D levels to 43 nanograms per milliliter of blood or higher reduced their risks of the chronic diseases.” Currently, 30 nanograms is “considered ‘normal'” by some (although in our community, many of the specialists want vitamin D levels to be 50 or higher).

Meanwhile, researchers also found that “patients who raised their vitamin D levels were 33% less likely to have a heart attack, 20% less likely to develop heart failure, and 30% less likely to die between” visits to their physician, WebMD reported. HealthDay also covered the story.

What am I doing in my practice? Checking a vitamin D level as part of my annual exam. I do this on all adolescents and adults. If the vitamin D level is below 50, I suggest supplementing with vitamin D and rechecking. I give my patients two options. (1) OTC vitamin D, 2000 IU per day, and recheck the level in 4-6 months, or (2) Prescription vitamin D, 50,000 IU per week for 12 weeks and then recheck the level.

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3 Responses to Increasing vitamin D levels may cut heart disease risk

  1. Debbie says:

    Dr. Walt,
    How many IU’s should I take daily if I have a balanced diet and a normal vitamin D level?

  2. Dr. Walt says:

    Deb, current adult recommendations vary from 800 to 1000 IU per day. But, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) is coming out with new recommendations this summer. I’m expecting them to increase this. Wouldn’t be surprised if they go up to 2000 IU. See more in my post of VItamin D and Cancer Prevention. Love to you and Rick. Walt

  3. Debbie says:

    I’m taking 1000 IUs right now, so will be interested to learn what those IOM folks have to say. Probably couldn’t hurt to bump it up to 2000 IUs. Although our pending trip to St. Thomas will help our D3 levels considerably! Love back at you and Barb.

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