Does Vitamin D Deficiency Increase Cardiovascular Risk?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • The winter months are approaching and it's time to address Vitamin D again.
    Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but a hormone the body produces from sunlight.

    According to recent review of existing research there is evidence low vitamin D levels impact cardiovascular disease risk, specifically blood pressure, insulin resistance, and coronary artery disease. The review of around 75 mostly observational studies was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology this month.

    Whether or not taking supplemental vitamin D will reduce cardiovascular risks or how much is needed to be effective is still to be determined. We now need more randomized control research studies to examine the impact of high dose Vitamin D supplementation to weigh the pros against the cons.

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    Daily Vitamin D Recommendation


    The Institute of Medicine has increased the Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin D from 400 IUs per day to 600 IUs up to age 70 years-old. For those over age 70, the recommendation is now 800 IUs.


    Vitamin D Sources


    The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Usually 10-15 minutes of sun exposure most days is enough to meet your vitamin D needs. However, keep in mind that clothes, sunscreen and where you live impact whether or not the body is able to product vitamin D from sunlight.


    Some vitamin D rich foods include:


    Fatty fish (i.e. salmon)
    Fortified dairy products
    Fortified cereal
    Fortified juice


    Where you live impacts vitamin D production


    If you live above the 40th degree latitude the sun's rays are not adequate during January and February. Picture a globe a draw a line around the globe starting at Denver, CO. If your home is above this line you are above the 40th latitude. If you live above the 42 degree latitude (above Chicago, IL), the sunlight is too weak from November through February.


    Do you need to supplement Vitamin D?


    I recommend discussing supplementation of vitamin D with your physician. Ideally you'd have lab work completed to determine whether or not you are deficient and if supplementation would be beneficial.

    Be sure to sign up for the free ecourse How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps at

Published On: October 26, 2011