More than 40% of Americans have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D, yet only 20 percent of American adults take vitamin D supplements, according to a 2016 report published in JAMA. This low consumption is surprising, considering the usefulness of vitamin D. Scientists have now discovered vitamin D can help to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Vitamin D restores a healthy balance between two key compounds required to maintain endothelial function: nitric oxide and peroxynitrate.1-4 This study showed that the addition of vitamin D to the cell culture resulted in an increase in protective nitric oxide and a decrease in destructive peroxynitrite.4
Supplementing with vitamin D helps reduce arterial stiffening and may improve endothelial function.5-7
There is a dangerous relationship between low vitamin D levels and heart failure, heart attacks, and high blood pressure.8 Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, and lipid disturbances.9
Research shows when vitamin D is administered to rats with high blood pressure, it helps keep their aortas loose, relaxed, and able to move blood with minimal resistance.10 This suggests that there’s a connection between vitamin D and how blood vessels respond to changes in flow and pressure.
Researchers at the Nanomedical Research Laboratory at Ohio University measured levels of nitric oxide and peroxynitrate.4 Beneficial nitric oxide helps keep blood vessels dilated, while peroxynitrite is highly reactive and destabilizing.1-4 In their experiment, just before measuring nitric oxide and peroxynitrite levels, they treated endothelial cells with the human hormone angiotensin-II, which produced a state of endothelial dysfunction identical to that seen in living people.4
When tiny amounts of vitamin D3 were added, something remarkable happened.
The nitric oxide/peroxynitrite ratios immediately rose more than 10-fold increase, restoring (and even exceeding) the normal ratio in healthy endothelial cells. This study suggests that vitamin D supplementation can restore normal endothelial function, supporting healthy blood flow and returning youthful suppleness to blood vessels.11
Artificial stiffness contributes to hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. It also plays a role in kidney and liver disorders, type II diabetes, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.7-11
Vitamin D has properties that help reduce oxidative stress, glycation, and inflammation,12-16 suggesting that it may play a role in preventing the arterial stiffening induced by these age-accelerating events.
Vitamin D supplementation can benefit healthy individuals by reducing their risk for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as arterial stiffness.17
In summary, Vitamin D is a heart-healthy vitamin, helping to improve endothelial function, resulting in healthy blood flow and a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Wattanapitayakul SK, Weinstein DM, Holycross BJ, et al. Endothelial dysfunction and peroxynitrite formation are early events in angiotensin-induced cardiovascular disorders. Faseb j. 2000 Feb;14(2):271-8.
- Zou MH, Cohen R, Ullrich V. Peroxynitrite and vascular endothelial dysfunction in diabetes mellitus. Endothelium. 2004 Mar-Apr;11(2):89-97.
- Forstermann U, Munzel T. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase in vascular disease: from marvel to menace. Circulation. 2006 Apr 4;113(13):1708-14.
- Khan A, Dawoud H, Malinski T. Nanomedical studies of the restoration of nitric oxide/peroxynitrite balance in dysfunctional endothelium by 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 – clinical implications for cardiovascular diseases. International Journal of Nanomedicine. 2018;13:455-66.
- Al Mheid I, Patel R, Murrow J, et al. Vitamin D status is associated with arterial stiffness and vascular dysfunction in healthy humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Jul 5;58(2):186-92.
- Raed A, Bhagatwala J, Zhu H, et al. Dose responses of vitamin D3 supplementation on arterial stiffness in overweight African Americans with vitamin D deficiency: A placebo controlled randomized trial. PLoS One. 2017;12(12):e0188424.
- Mazidi M, Karimi E, Rezaie P, et al. The impact of vitamin D supplement intake on vascular endothelial function; a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food & Nutrition Research. 2017 2017/01/01;61(1):1273574.
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 9;168(11):1174-80.
- Martins D, Wolf M, Pan D, et al. Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the United States: data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 11;167(11):1159-65.
- Wong MS, Delansorne R, Man RY, et al. Chronic treatment with vitamin D lowers arterial blood pressure and reduces endothelium-dependent contractions in the aorta of the spontaneously hypertensive rat. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Oct;299(4):H1226-34.
- Sandoo A, van Zanten JJCSV, Metsios GS, et al. The endothelium and its role in regulating vascular tone. The open cardiovascular medicine journal. 2010;4:302-12.
- Salum E, Kals J, Kampus P, et al. Vitamin D reduces deposition of advanced glycation end-products in the aortic wall and systemic oxidative stress in diabetic rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2013 May;100(2):243-9.
- Zhang Y, Leung DY, Goleva E. Anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid-enhancing actions of vitamin D in monocytes of patients with steroid-resistant and those with steroid-sensitive asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Jun;133(6):1744-52 e1.
- Baser H, Can U, Baser S, et al. Serum total oxidant/anti-oxidant status, ischemia-modified albumin and oxidized-low density lipoprotein levels in patients with vitamin D deficiency. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug;59(4):318-24.
- Polidoro L, Properzi G, Marampon F, et al. Vitamin D protects human endothelial cells from H(2)O(2) oxidant injury through the Mek/Erk-Sirt1 axis activation. J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2013 Apr;6(2):221-31.
- Tao S, Yuan Q, Mao L, et al. Vitamin D deficiency causes insulin resistance by provoking oxidative stress in hepatocytes. Oncotarget. 2017 Sep 15;8(40):67605-13.
- McGreevy C, Barry M, Davenport C, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on arterial stiffness in an elderly community-based population. J Am Soc Hypertens. 2015 Mar;9(3):176-83.